DUMBO outdoor film fest offers bike valet, food and more

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The Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer Film Festival, celebrating its fifth season, will once again present stars under the stars for six Thursdays at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park.

This year’s films will be "a little bit of a mix" with movies that take place in Brooklyn ("Arsenic and Old Lace," "Dog Day Afternoon"), movies directed by Brooklynites (Woody Allen’s "Radio Days," Spike Lee’s "25th Hour") and movies starring Brooklyn actors (Eddie Murphy as the voice of Donkey in "Shrek" and Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper in "Jaws"), said Sharon Soons, a spokeswoman for the series’ host, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

Each evening will also include a short produced or directed by a Brooklynite. One filmmaker who answered BBPC’s call for entries is Brooklyn Heights resident Marvin Starkman, who produced "The Box" (1961), a comic tale of technology gone wrong, shot by cameraman John Cazale, who later played Sal in "Dog Day Afternoon."

Starkman, who met Cazale while they were both students at Boston University, told GO Brooklyn, "Cazale was so multitalented it was incredible. Photography was one of his many skills. I asked him to shoot my film as a favor."

In addition to "Dog Day," Cazale also co-starred in "The Godfather" Parts I and II. He died shortly after filming 1978’s "The Deer Hunter."

"The Box" stars Michael Lombard ("Prizzi’s Honor," "Thomas Crown Affair") as a man who buys a television that won’t work the way he wants it to. The film was made on a shoestring budget with "short ends," leftover unexposed pieces from larger reels.

"We filmed ’The Box’ in Michael’s apartment," says Starkman. "He was appearing on Broadway at the time, and he had only one free day when we could do the filming. He lived over a movie theater, and that was where the fuse box was located. The movie theater closed at midnight. So when we blew a fuse in the afternoon, we knew we had better not blow another fuse after midnight, or we couldn’t shoot the film."

Starkman, who is an actor/director with the Abington Theater Company, has directed two shows at The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue - "The Tenth Man," in 1996, and "Incident at Vichy," in 2003.

The Summer Film Festival kicks off on July 8 with "Radio Days" (1987), a nostalgic piece that crosscuts between Allen’s youth in Brooklyn and the uptown scene populated by radio personalities. It will be shown with Starkman’s "The Box."

On July 15, viewers will be entertained by the groundbreaking animated film "Shrek" (2001), a delightful story of the triumph of true love. This will be preceded by the short film, "Clay Life," a biographical portrait by Robert Yulfo, who was part of the HBO Young Filmmakers Lab at the Prospect Park YMCA.

"Dog Day Afternoon," critically acclaimed as one of the finest films of the ’70s, will be shown on July 22. In this alternately tragic and funny movie, Al Pacino plays a bisexual man who robs the First Savings Bank of Brooklyn to finance a sex-change operation for his transvestite lover. Much of it was filmed in Windsor Terrace. Cazale is his rifle-toting accomplice. The short film that night will be "Dog Given Right," produced and directed by Chris McCawley, Craig MacNaughton and Joel S. Silver.

On July 29, the series screens "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944), a film adaptation of the Broadway hit about the lovable Brewster sisters, two spinsters who poison bachelor callers to their Brooklyn Heights house in order to save the gentlemen from loneliness. "Two Fat Ladies," by Irish director John Hayes, will be the short film that night.

Spike Lee’s 2002 film, "25th Hour," about the last 24 hours heroin pusher Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) gets to spend with his best friends, a bond trader and a high school English teacher, before he goes to prison to serve a seven-year sentence, screens on Aug. 5. The short film that night will be "Date," directed by Eva Saks.

The series ends on Aug. 12 with Steven Spielberg’s first mega-hit, "Jaws," the thriller that made everyone afraid to go to the beach in the summer of ’75. It features Richard Dreyfuss as Matt Hooper, a marine biologist who along with Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) and crusty sea dog Quint (Robert Shaw) must outwit a 28-foot great white shark attacking swimmers on Amity Island, a fictional East Coast resort. Koyalee Chandra’s short film, "Hic," will be screened, too.

This film series may be the most user-friendly and amiable in the city.

"We have a great audience. Everyone is so considerate. We tell people to act the way they would at a movie house, and they do," said Soons.

Two years ago, Soons introduced neon-colored fly tape running along the lawn to make convenient aisles, and free valet parking to help keep bikes off the lawn.

"If you ride your bike we’ll take it, give you a ticket and watch it while you watch the movie," says Soons.

Viewers can either bring a picnic dinner and sit on the grass or purchase a meal prepared by nearby Rice restaurant at the screening. Snacks - popcorn, soft drinks and water - are also available for purchase.

On-site chair rental is available, too.

Other amenities include a trolley that runs a circuit including the park and the three neighboring subway stations: Clark Street (2, 3), High Street (A, C) and York Street (F).

Of course, the ultimate goal of the film series is to build support for a "world-class park on the waterfront," said Soons. "A lot of people don’t know enough about the park. They don’t realize it’s going to run from Atlantic Avenue to Jay Street."

The film series currently attracts 1,000 to 2,000 people, depending on the weather, she said. This year its biggest sponsor is Independence Community Bank, which foots much of the $40,000 bill for the six nights.

Soons says an environmental impact study is currently underway, and she is hopeful "shovel will be put to ground" by 2006.

In the meantime, what better way to spend a summer night than to watch a Brooklyn film while facing the spectacular Manhattan skyline, in the shadow of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, with all of Brooklyn spread out behind you?

Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer Film Festival screens films on Thursdays from July 8 through Aug. 12 at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, located between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in DUMBO. Enter at Water Street. All screenings start at dusk (about 8:45 pm) and are free of charge. Rain dates are the following Fridays. For more information, visit or call (718) 802-0603.

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