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Coney Island Amusement Park Film to Show at IFC Center

By Andrea Swalec | August 1, 2013 7:56am
'Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride'
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Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride

MANHATTAN — Ever wonder what happened to the Zipper?

A new film that tells the story of the classic Coney Island ride — which left the amusement park amid major changes to the area — is showing in Greenwich Village starting next week.

Appearing at the IFC Center in its first extended theatrical run, "Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride" looks at how the 38-year-old carnival contraption left the Brooklyn park, director Amy Nicholson said on Wednesday.

"It's probably the most interesting documentary about land use you'll ever see," she said, adding she hoped to capture the "unfettered, chaotic, noisy" spirit of Coney Island.

Made from 2009 to 2012, "Zipper" was shot on film in an attempt to capture the "analog" feeling of Coney Island. Nicholson, 49, a Village resident, said that feeling is what initially drew her to the boardwalk and the nearby attractions.

"In a world where you sit in front of a computer every day...we would get on the train and go there on a Saturday night, have some warm beer and just watch people," she said.

Nicholson said she began to work on the film after reading in 2007 that the stomach-churning ride would be dismantled at the end of its lease that year. Landlord Joe Sitt would later sell the land to the city.

"My heart just sunk," she said.

Under a redevelopment plan by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city rezoned a 27-acre swath of Coney Island in 2009 to create an amusement and entertainment district that will allow additional commercial uses.

Critics like Nicholson say new businesses and rides threaten to rob Coney Island of what made it unique.

"When I go there now, I see a very fractured version of Coney Island," she said.

"Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride" begins a run of at least one week at the IFC Center, located at 323 Sixth Ave. at West Third Street, on Aug. 9. The filmmaker will appear at question-and-answer sessions that day during evening showings.