Creating an account with gives you access to more features and services, like our weekly newsletter and other special features just for the film community.


Panel: City Island

City Island director Raymond De Felitta joined stars Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies on a panel, hosted by Brookfield Properties, about how NYC is the greatest movie location on earth. See City Island today!

City Island, a current contender for the Heineken Audience Award, has been pleasing crowds all week. The film, set in the titular, little-known Bronx fishing village, was the subject of a special panel held last night by Brookfield Properties, a TFF Signature Sponsor. Director Raymond De Felitta joined stars Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies for an evening of film and conversation, topped off with an charming and impromptu piano duet by De Felitta and Garcia. The panel was hosted by James Sanders, the architect, writer and filmmaker, and, while the audience was treated to clips of the film, the discussion was mostly centered around shooting on location in New York, and, in particular, the Bronx.

De Felitta started by explaining that he had not heard of City Island—even after living here for several years—until reading about it in an "Escapes" article in The New York Times. "My wife and I drove up there, and I had an idea for a story about a family. I realized that nobody had shot City Island for City Island before—they had only used it as a substitute for other locations." After some research, he learned that the people in City Island "are divided into two parts: "Clam diggers, who are native City Islanders, and mussel suckers, who moved here from somewhere else. They can also be described as those who stay and those who wander [respectively]."

Garcia—the film's producer as well as the star—said he liked the script immediately. "It had surprises and was very engaging. I met Raymond, and I liked him very much. He's a jazz pianist, and I'd seen his previous films. You never know what to expect, but we decided to hold hands and get this thing done."

Margulies explained that she was a last-minute replacement for another actress. "I got the script on Friday, and was told, 'You've got to read this right away.' We started shooting on Monday. But I felt comfortable with Andy since I'd played his wife before, in a movie called The Man From Elysian Fields."

As a film historian, Sanders noted, "When old Hollywood made movies about New York, it was always Manhattan (and occasionally Brooklyn)." He explained that movies like Marty and Saturday Night Fever eventually opened up the other boroughs, but "Manhattan was always there. It's always the younger characters who want to get away and into Manhattan. It's interesting that in City Island, it's the older, father character who is the one lured by Manhattan." De Felitta replied, "In City Island, they are in the shadow of Manhattan, but they are very separate from the city. They like the view, but they like their home."

Margulies explained that it works both ways. "I grew up in Manhattan, and I had not heard of City Island before either. My father grew up in the Bronx, and when I told him I was making this movie, he said, 'I spent my whole life trying to get out of there!' He used to go to Orchard Beach as a kid, which is right next to City Island. I asked why he never took me there, and he said he was always trying tp get away."

Margulies enthused about the city's advantages as a movie location: "New York is a beautiful city, with so many facets. There is an air quality and a texture to New York—I always know if a film is shot on location or not. When I lived in LA, I got in my car at 5:30 am and went to a movie set. At 9:00 at night, I got back in my car and went home. I never saw a normal human being. There is life that happens here, and there's theatre life too. You're not just stuck in a bubble."

When asked about being on location in the Bronx, Garcia explained that the last night of the shoot "felt like a sitcom TV audience. We filmed from sundown to about 5:30 am, and there was a crowd parked in the lawn across the street. People were hanging out—I don't think they realized we were going to shoot all night, but they got into it. That's what it's like shooting in a real neighborhood in New York."

After the panel, Margulies and Garcia talked about their returns to Tribeca—both have been here once before, Margulies with Slingshot in 2005 and Garcia with The Air I Breathe in 2007. Garcia: "Tribeca is a Festival that celebrates film. It's not encumbered by selling movies—although that happens here, it doesn't feel like a market. It's truly a beautiful celebration of film."

Margulies concurred, "There's nothing like it. And the reaction that the film got [at the premiere]—I've never seen anything like it. You expect that kind of reaction—a 10-minute standing ovation—to happen sometimes with the theatre, but to see it in a movie! It's a New York story, and to have it premiere in New York was very special." She added, "I think it's the best work Andy has ever done. I mean it."

Over dessert and coffee, the appreciative audience was offered a special treat: as mentioned, De Felitta is an accomplished jazz pianist, and he sat down and played a lovely tune. After about ten minutes, Garcia joined him for an impromptu duet. It was one of those New York moments that couldn't be scripted.

Winner: Heineken Audience Award First Place Winner.
As a result, this film will screen two additional times on
Sunday, May 3 at 12:30 pm and 6:30 pm.
For tickets, click here.

Read more Film Coverage.


What you need to know today