21st Annual Coney Island Film Festival is live again

A detail from “Hybrid,” an animated film to be shown at the Coney Island Film Festival. Photo by Steve Lapcevic

The 21st annual installment of the Coney Island Film Festival — the first live version of the festival in two years — hits the shores of Coney Island from Saturday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 19, and online at xerb.tv from Sept. 18 through 25.

This year’s festival features 108 films from around the world; a stunning array of independent films, as diverse as the neighborhood it represents. “Subjects range from the profound to the profane, showcasing the independent spirit and irreverent nature of Coney Island,” according to a statement by the organizers. 

Films will be shown at Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore and the Coney Island Museum, both located inside the landmarked Coney Island USA building at 1208 Surf Ave., between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street. All attendees must be vaccinated and masks are required.

The Coney Island Film Festival will offer a variety of features, documentaries, animation, experimental films, horror films and music videos spread throughout 16 program blocks. There will also be some “Made in Coney Island” films.

In one of the shorts, Fredgy Noel’s comedy “The Dogfriend,” a young woman wishes for her dog to become her boyfriend and then endures the myriad consequences when her wish comes true. 

A crowd watches a showing at the 2019 Coney Island Film Festival. Photo by Norman Blake

In another, Todd Gordon’s drama short “Old Hen,” Henry, a septuagenarian cross-dresser, finds his life abruptly changed when Dolores, his long-time co-worker and closest friend, suddenly dies, forcing him to come to terms with losing the only person who truly accepts his cross-dressing.

The Brooklyn Premiere of Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s “Vinyl Nation” is one of the documentary highlights. “Vinyl Nation” is a dig into the crates of the vinyl record resurgence to discover what an old technology says about our relationship to music and each other in a divided time in America. 

The festival will also present the New York premiere of Mike Schiff’s “The History of Metal and Horror” a documentary that explores the history of heavy metal and horror and how the two genres merged over time. The film features superstar Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Kirk Hammett, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Dave Mustaine, Jonathan Davis, Corey Taylor and many more.

Among the documentary shorts are Paul Szynol’s “I Want Everything” about celebrity journalist Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who has released his first album at the age of 70; and “Mudlarker,” co-directed by Miles G. Cohen and Seb Tuinder, in which an injured school bus driver forced into retirement scavenges for survival at a radioactive beach in Brooklyn.

Introduction at the 2019 Coney Island Film Festival. Photo by Norman Blake

Highlights of the “Narrative Features” category includes the New York Premiere of “Generation Wrecks” directed by Kevin Morales, A coming-of-age comedy set in the spring of 1994; and the New York Premiere of Bret Lada’s thriller “The Andy Baker Tape,” that reveals the last known footage of food blogger Jeff Blake and his half-brother Andy Baker.

The popular Horror Shorts category returns again this year with two programs on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fifteen films from the bizarre to the macabre are bound to scare and spook the audience. 

Wrapping up the festival’s last screening block on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. is “Coney Island Films”, featuring films centered and themed around Coney Island.

For more information, visit coneyislandfilmfestival.com.