A reel thriller: Short film looks at 90 years of shake, rattle, and roller coaster

Get a ticket!: Bay Ridgite Frank Posillico’s short documentary, “Cyclone: 90 Years of History on Wheels,” will screen on June 8 in Bay Ridge as part of the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival.
Frank Posillico

This is a screening to make you scream!

A new documentary will convey the thrill of rocketing along Coney Island’s most iconic rickety roller coaster! “Cyclone: 90 Years of History on Wheels” will screen on June 8 in Bay Ridge as part of the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, which celebrates Brooklyn-affiliated films from June 2 to June 10 at locations throughout Kings County.

It took the film’s director just one visit to the People’s Playground to decide that he had to pull out his camera and film the wooden coaster. He soon realized that what made the ride special was its loyal fans. Frank Posillico’s movie interviews the die-hard riders who return to the roller coaster each season, and even get it inked into their skin.

“Honestly, this was the second time I was ever in Coney Island, I had never ridden the Cyclone — I was always a big fan of roller coasters and all that stuff,” said Posillico, a senior video editor at the New York Daily News. “I wound up spending so much time there with the people that are obsessed with this ride, have tattoos of it, they live-stream themselves on the ride, and through that I fell in love with that as well.”

The Bay Ridgite began filming the wooden star of his 15-minute film in 2017, in honor of its 90th year zipping through the amusement park, he said.

“I saw a story in the paper about the Cyclone turning 90, so I thought it would be a great idea for a longer-form piece,” said Posillico.

Posillico is also a history buff, and his short film takes viewers on a stationary ride through the history of the beloved coaster, and of the neighborhood known as Sodom by the Sea that surrounds it, he said.

“I just love the history of New York City, I am a New Yorker, I like looking into that stuff and the Cyclone being 90 years old, I thought it was good fodder for that,” he said. “It’s a bit of a history of Coney Island and the Cyclone — the birthplace of the roller coaster, and then focuses on fans of the ride. I was able to get a few people coming off the ride to talk about it.”

The flick has already screened at the Manhattan Film Festival, the New York Short Film Festival, and a half-dozen other film celebrations, but the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival is the last run for the documentary, said Posillico. So the director encourages everyone to get a ticket for the film, and to the Cyclone itself, he said.

“It’s actually the last festival of its run,” said Posillico. “I encourage people to ride it, it’s a cool part of New York City, and go see it.”

“Cyclone: 90 Years of History on Wheels” screening as part of the “Everything is Changing” shorts block at Mary White Ovington School (7002 Fourth Ave. at Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge, www.theartofbrooklyn.org). June 8 at 9 pm. $15.

The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival runs June 2–10 at various locations (www.theartofbrooklyn.org).

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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