The gritty world of New York City street booksellers is exposed in a remarkable story that chronicles their lives and loves and their unique perspectives on life. Directed by a street bookseller, it explores the other side of the book tables along the streets of the Village, on the Lower East Side, along 6th avenue, and elsewhere in New York City. See the Mayor, the University and the NYPD try to shut them down!Written by
Barney Oldfield, Angelika Entertainment NYC
Because of extreme budget limitations, the production of "BookWars" was financed from books sold at the filmmaker's sidewalk book stand - as more books were sold, more tape and film stock could be bought. See more »
Granted, it doesn't seem that the story of a group of people who sell books on the streets of New York City would make for much of a film.
"BookWars" proves that wrong. In the process, it also proves that documentaries don't have to be mind-numbing exercises in pomposity.
Jason Rosette wrote, directed, produced, edited and stars in this 77-minute glimpse into the sometimes fascinating world of street booksellers.
The first part of the movie introduces viewers to a colorful group of men Rosette meets when he begins selling his books. Among them are Peter Whitney, an artist and insect/animal expert; Slick Rick, a magician and wiseguy; Marvin, a recovering alcoholic; and Polish Joe, the "smoker of 100 cigarettes."
In addition to meeting a few of the regular customers, the viewer also is taken on searches for books, which are portrayed as treasured works of art. Rosette's comparison of book selling to drug dealing is amazingly accurate in many ways.
The second half of the movie deals with the booksellers' struggles with city officials. Under Mayor Rudolph Guiliana's "Quality of Life" push to clean up the city, NYPD officers begin being more strict and try to get the sellers' tables off the street corners.
While enforcing the city's new rules, the cops can't help but browse through the books. Nearby New York University also tries to push the sellers away.
Sometimes Rosette, who also serves as narrator (sounding eerily like William Shatner at times), waxes a little too poetic about the life of a bookseller and about books in general. But that comes from his sincere love of the entire scene, so at least it's sincere.
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