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Port Chester Documentary Lands At Yonkers Film Festival

Filmmaker Anthony Desiato, left, with Jay Meisel at a private screening of their documentary.
Filmmaker Anthony Desiato, left, with Jay Meisel at a private screening of their documentary. Photo Credit: Contributed
The movie flier for "By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story."
The movie flier for "By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story." Photo Credit: Contributed/Anthony Desiato

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. - Bright lights, big city. Well, almost.

A 27-year-old lawyer from Hartsdale who dabbles in filmmaking on the side will watch the first public screening of his second documentary this weekend at the Yonkers Film Festival.

Anthony Desiato's film, "By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story," is about a curmudgeonly comic book vendor's final days at the Empire State Flea Market in Port Chester before its closing last year. You can watch the film's trailer here:

The three-day YoFi festival starts Friday, Oct. 17. Desiato's film screens at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in the Gallery Theater at the Yonkers Riverfront Library, Larkin Plaza.

In 34 years, Jay's Comics and Posters flea market space was open for all but just three weekends, until the Port Chester market was shuttered forever, forcing Meisel to move his comic treasures to his garage in Hartsdale.

"Yes, the market is closing,'' Meisel declares in the film by Flat Squirrel Productions. "Today, the market doesn't end. The market will go on forever in the hearts and minds of everybody who resides in Port Chester. ... I really was planning on dying in here."

By day, Desiato works at Pace University Law School's admissions office in White Plains. His website, www.flatsquirrelproductions.com includes Desiato's biography as well as a link to his first film, "My Comic Shop DocumentARy."

Desiato produced his inaugural "comic shop" film while studying law and working at Alternate Realities, a comic book shop in Scarsdale. "It's definitely an unusual path,'' Desiato says of his dual career.

The central character in his first film is Alternate Realities comic shop owner Steven K. Oto, a former lawyer; his store was "a source of constant entertainment,'' according to Desiato.

"My Comic Shop DocumentARy" was the very first locally produced film screened in the "Local Element" series at Pleasantville's Jacob Burns Film Center in 2012.

Currently, Desiato is working on "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," about an aspiring puppeteer from the Bronx.

Meisel joined Desiato at a private screening of "By Spoon!" After working from an original 15 hours of film, Desiato said it was gratifying to hear the audience "laugh where I wanted there to be laughter. ... The responses were great."

Tickets for "By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story," are available at the Yonkers Festival box office, as well as online at yofifest.wix.com/yofifest

"By Spoon!" has plenty of fine film company: "God's Pocket," starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, airs at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Atrium Theater. "The Dog," a documentary about the real-life bank robber -- who the Oscar-winning film "Dog Day Afternoon" was based on -- is featured Saturday at 8 p.m.

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