Oct 15, 2008

Abel Ferrara in "you are in heaven, and you are in hell"

Legendary director Abel Ferrara's Mary, despite its star studded cast and Venice Film Festival laureates several years back, finally reaches an American screen this coming weekend with a four day run at, where else, Anthology Film Archives, the place where challenging cinema no one with distribution power thinks is marketable has its day in the sun. CEC's Evan Louison caught up with Abel this past weekend. Here's a few words from him.

By Evan Louison

When I was five years old or so my father and his friend Pietro Di Donato used to take me clamming in the Long Island Sound. One time I fell asleep in the boat and woke in a dense mist to see only these two shapes of men working, wading in the shallow waters of the creek bed. I thought I could hear them singing through the haze.

When I was a little older I would stay with my father in his girlfriend’s apartment on Bleecker Street. He would show me the spot on 6th Ave where Vinnie “the Chin” Gigante got caught trying to beat the crosswalk signal, running through heavy traffic with his lawyer, after duping the Feds for years. Legally insane, he used to parade around the West Side in slippers and a bathrobe to throw off his surveillance detail.

One time I went to Umberto’s on Mulberry Street where Joey Gallo got shot and they still talk about it all the time. Butch the Hat still lives over there and remembers the whole thing. ‘He was a child of God’ he said when he told me the Catholic Church refused to bury Joey. Butch was in King of New York and The Addiction. He says he always wore the brim of his hat up, so no one would think he was ‘just some guy who did the dirty work.’ I asked my father about Joey when I was younger and he told me ‘He was from the East Side. Those guys weren’t welcome over here.’

Thing about sharing your name with someone whose brother kills them in the Bible’s first couple chapters is you more than likely always bear that mark. And Abel bears it well. In Italian, his name means “the blacksmith’s breath.” In Arabic, that’s what Cain means: Blacksmith.

The other night Abel and I stopped in a convenience store on Broome Street and he asked the guy behind the counter ‘Where you from my man?’ The guy answered ‘Me? I’m from Virginia.’ Abel just looked at him all smiling and said ‘Virginia? Yeah you look Virginian. You look a little like Thomas Jefferson.’

Around the corner from Butch’s place on Mulberry Street is a place called ‘La Bella Ferrara.’ The beautiful indeed.