Watching it now after his passing is especially poignant for me because Al and I continued our relationship on and off for a decade up until his death on December 19, 2013. I was fortunate to visit him at his nursing home in Brooklyn Heights a few weeks ago. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He didn’t even know who I was until 15 minutes into my visit when I reminded him of how we met in the jail cell of the police precinct only a few blocks away. (More on this in the movie). Then he smiled and patted me on the head, which is a sign of recognition for those with dementia. I thanked him, helped him eat a few peanut butter cups and said goodbye for the last time.
For a first film, this was an incredibly difficult one to make about an incredibly difficult man. But seeing it now, after his passing, I’m glad I took on this challenge and it was worth the trouble. The film is funny and sad and tragic and (I think) a moving tribute to a very complicated man. Al told me it was the greatest compliment anyone’s ever given to him. He loved the movie but my goal wasn’t to be complimentary, it was to show a fair, warts-and-all portrayal of a once-in-a-lifetime New York character. Al, there will never be another one like you. Rest in peace, my pal Al.
Screened at over a dozen festivals including:
New York Underground Film Festival Opening Night Film
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
San Francisco Documentary Film Festival
Nominated Best Documentary AVN Awards