In 1986 Howard Zuker and Neil Cohen directed their first and only film, CHIEF ZABU, a low budget, audacious socio-political comedy about New York real estate operators who scheme to take over a Polynesian country while its leader is in New York seeking admission to the UN. Featuring a cast of legendary character actors - Allen Garfield (The Conversation), Zack Norman (Romancing the Stone), Allan Arbus (Putney Swope), Marianna Hill (The Godfather: Part 2), Manu Tupuo (Hawaii), Ed Lauter (The Longest Yard), Shirley Stoler (Seven Beauties), plus the harp-playing "Miss California," Lucianne Buchanan - and set in Manhattan, The Hudson Valley, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and the fictional island nation of Tiburaku, CHIEF ZABU was shot almost entirely on a college campus, in 15 days, for under $200,000 (with the cast, crew, and student interns all living together in the dorms). After a series of snafus that paralleled the film's madcap plot, and despite featured coverage of its production in ...Written by
Neil Cohen, co-director, co-writer
Shot in 15 days on the campus of Bard College in 1986, during the break between the spring and summer sessions. Its cast of legendary character actors was joined by a young NYC indie crew and 22 Bard College student interns, all living together in the dorm. 93% of the film was shot at Bard (or a nearby Chinese restaurant, a local hardware store and on the highway to Bard). NYC exteriors were filmed on the streets of Manhattan in a day and a half, plus a half day of exteriors on the island of St. Croix. See more »
Chief Zabu is a socio-political comedy shot in the 1980's that only recently released this year and just in time for the presidential election. It tells the story of two New York businessmen who scheme to take over a Polynesian country in hopes of living out their American dream. Neil Cohen and Zack Norman create a hilariously quick-witted script in this social satire that I found exceptionally entertaining. Also, Allen Garfield and Zack Norman were perfect in their roles as the hysterical New Yorkers. Their chemistry on screen was truly captivating and I loved their intelligent humor and perfect comedic timing. Although this was a low-budget film with a short running time, it successfully manages to humorously incorporate topics of the political and social world that are still incredibly relevant today. I highly recommend watching this uniquely brilliant comedy.
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