Reviews & Links

Reviews

“A spirited elegy for the Carnegie Hall Studios…”

A.O. Scott, New York Times

Lost Bohemia’s real power … is in the impromptu interviews Astor conducted with his neighbors, including fellow photographer Editta Sherman, singer Jeanne Beauvais, [and] the New York Times’ Bill Cunningham.”

Mark Holcomb, Village Voice

Lost Bohemia reminds us of how insensitively society often treats its elderly and disenfranchised. One scene lingers over the remains of a massive pipe organ, tossed in the trash after its own­er, a 92-year-old studio dweller, dies. That’s a fate that even uber-capitalist Carnegie would have decried.”

Laura Emerick, Chicago Sun-Times

” 3 out of 4 Stars”

V.A. Musetto, The New York Post

“It was a time capsule of mid-century arty Manhattan, and just before it all came to an end, Astor took his camera into [that] tight little world…”

New York Magazine

“…An intimacy familiar from home movies, revealing eccentric neighbors at their most frank and endearing.”

Eric Hynes, Time Out New York

“For a fond and stirring tribute to a grand tradition and a fading way of life, by all means see Josef Astor’s Lost Bohemia.”

John Farr, Huffington Post

“A poignant, homemade documentary of corporate ‘arts’ predators tossing artists to the curb, Lost Bohemia renders the recent history of Carnegie Hall Studios as both a painful, personal case history and a metaphor for the power of mammon over the muse.”

Bill Weber, Slant Magazine

“A labor of love…”

Grazia d’Annunzio, Vogue Italia

 “The film is carefully crafted to allow the personality of each tenant to shine through, giving the film less the feeling of a documentary and more the feeling of watching home videos of cherished family members with a pressing story to tell.”

Adrienne Anderson, The Daily Nebraskan

 

 Audience Reviews and Comments

Congratulations on your film. You have captured the Carnegie Hall Studio just as they and the tenants came to vanish from that lovely Bohemian atmosphere that time had passed over. The studio building was not unlike a dowager Dutchess that remained proud and inept as the 20 and 21st century around her.

Thankfully you have created this historic record.

And how to express in words your sensitive beautiful memory of Jeanne Beauvais. Your tenderness brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you for all you have done with passion.

– Bill Cunningham

 

I was deeply touched by the movie.  This was a battle for the soul of New York, and the MBA’s won.  Where were the historic preservationists?  This, if ever, was a historic interior, and the tactic should have been to declare it as such, or, better, to turn it into a protected national urban park:  those people were endangered creatures, elks caught in the headlights of a ceaseless New York encroaching on their habitat.  The policy should have been to upgrade each of the spaces as they became vacated through attrition, and to curate the new tenants to reinforce the artistic traditions the building had nurtured.  This was an island of soul up there, terribly fragile, and Bloomberg on down went AWOL.  Astor let the people, their voices and music, speak from themselves. The film glowed from within, without the arching narrative line of a script and director.

– Joseph Giovannini

 

I was so moved by the film and by the way you talked about it afterwards. And realized in the taxi going home that you had a very particular understanding of the Hall denizens and an unfailing ability to draw them out. They all say and do such touching, illuminating, heartbreaking, funny things. (I realize that some of them live to be “drawn out,” but still. That last clip of Mlle Beauvais is for the ages.)

The most killing sequences for me were the ones about Star. Like the bit where she makes a line with her body in the stairwell and says she’s been taught that everything in nature is ruled by the rightness of lines. And when she says “it’s all gone” and there’s that quick shot of her hopping down the hall to disappear forever, my eyes filled. Did she say she was Czech?  – extraordinarily intense gaze – like something looking out of a tree at you.

I could go on and on. It is an incomparable set of portraits and I am SO GLAD Elizabeth Sargent has at last allowed you to name her. It was also very wonderful to see Editta  in her hundredth year.

You beautifully made the point that we have ALL lost something.

– Kirk Stirling

P.S. There is a very long sentence in the last book of A la recherché (imagine that!) that says, among other things, that “the only true paradises are lost ones.”

 

“I just saw a screening of this wonderful film about the artists studios and living spaces that existed above Carnegie Hall for decades. I have a personal connection to this becuase I represented Editta Sherman, the “Dutchess of Carnegie Hall”, pictured in the photo, an amazing portrait photographer and one of its last rent controlled tenants. How sad that we continue to promote development and “progress” over history, art, culture, tradition and the protection of tenants.”

– Sam Himmelstein

 

This  cut was far superior to the one we saw last winter. It had real suspense, great editing that added more continuity and definition to the story. The historical references made the film far more powerful because they lifted it from contemporary news and echoed the past while foretelling the future. Isn’t that classicism when art is universal?  Great job. Congrats and thanks from tenants everywhere.  Remember: You just aren’t  a native American until you’ve been kicked out of your home!!!

– Behl

 

We really enjoyed the film – it’s terrific.  It captures the feeling of the studios, which was unique and wonderful. Even the halls, the sounds, the quirky, institutional spaces.  And the marvelous people. It is also an eloquent reminder of what we leave behind when we “modernize,” the inefficient, disorganized charm of the pre-1960 city.  It is all the more remarkable because it is not angry or quarrelsome, but instead has clear eyed integrity and affection for its subject.  We just loved it as we love you and we are very proud of you.

– Tom and Andy

The film was so haunting, it has stayed with me all these days… It just broke my heart. Maybe it played into my depression, but the  ballet dancer doing her warm ups,  the injustice of it all is just intolerable, and her little speeches, and all the dreams of the past glory of the space and its inhabitants. I keep think of that acting teacher that said value is not just monetary, but only monetary value is assigned things now, cultural or spiritual value alone can not ensure a things survival. It is a noble achievement, you captured it on film, where it will always live, and that is huge. I was amazed to see it!

– Antony

 

Saw the film today and was very impressed, it was a real treat to see so many people we knew in it.

I think it’s great you made this film — kind of a microcosm of how commercial interests are taking over the whole world these days.

The part that really got to me was, and I’m not sure I saw it it was so fleeting and at the end, was the absence of the skylights on the roof.  Really, really sad.  I know how awful it’s been for you personally losing your studio, and the whole thing is just awful.

(now I know why your middle name is Birdman. )

– Alicia and Carol

You have given us a beautiful haunting elegy, one we can say  befits the glorious history Carnegie’s vision

reached for-I mean a poem uplifting and sad in its portrayal of the rise of his community of artists and its collapse

into vacuous memory.  The magical weave of voices, character, and images-choral and oracle, masked and

unmasked-is set before us in the  humblest and noblest language a camera

can speak to the human heart.

Best wishes,

– Bradley Sherman

 

The Carnegie Studios — that special swath of space on West 57th St.,– represented  a major historic vortex of creative energy reflecting the cultural soul of America from fine arts and performing arts to musical theater.  The artists and writers who lived and worked there have left an unprecedented,  indelible imprint on the international arts scene.  Brando, Bernstein, Burstyn, Beauvais, Chayefvsky, Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan and numerous other luminaries have illuminated our lives and the world with their unique personas and creative vision.

Keep the faith “Birdman.”  Your film, your vision has touched many people’s lives.

– Suzanne Vlamis

 

In The News

Interview with director Josef Astor – Vanishing New York Blog, Nov. 3, 2010

Bohemia In Midtown – New York Magazine, Dec. 30, 2007

Chairman’s Kin Hired As Architect for Carnegie – New York Times, Oct. 11, 2007

Last Tenants Leave the Carnegie Studios – New York Times, Aug. 27, 2010

 

Resident Websites

Editta Sherman – Photographer, featured star of the film

Robert X, Modica – Legendary acting coach, featured star of the film