Call it strangely eerie or a fitting send off, on the same day that former New York mayor Ed Koch died, a new documentary about him and titled simply, Koch will open in the city he lead and will be buried in. Koch, who served as NYC mayor from 1978 - 1989 over three terms, died at 2am Eastern Time from congestive heart failure, according to the New York Times.
Directed by first-time filmmaker Neil Barsky, Koch offers a portrait of the combative, humorous and straight-talking mayor who also served as a Congressman before taking the city's highest office. The film chronicles the history of NYC alongside Koch's tenure, which began as the city faced the depths of near bankruptcy and malaise in the late '70s.
As he served in the '80s, the city faced racial strife and the dawn of the AIDS crisis as well as homelessness and the ascendance of Wall Street wealth in the go-go '80s. In 1987 he famously refused a permit for the New York Giants to have a ticker tape parade to celebrate their victory at Super Bowl XXI because the team had moved to the Meadowland Complex over the river in New Jersey some years prior.
"If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie," said Koch, referring to the town near the Giants' adopted home.
Koch also left his touch on the entertainment world, serving as judge on The People's Court after his mayorship ended, and even as a film critic through his web show, Mayor At the Movies, according to Deadline.com. He also appeared in dozens of films and television shows including The Muppets Take Manhattan, Sex and the City, Spin City and of course, Saturday Night Live.
Zeitgeist Films will open Koch, which premiered at last October's Hamptons International Film Festival, at the Angelika and Lincoln Plaza theaters in Manhattan this weekend. It will head to other areas of the city in the coming weeks in addition to other U.S. cities in a slow roll-out.
"I spoke to him on the day of the premiere [from the hospital] and he said, 'don't let the applause go to your head,'" Barsky said Friday morning on local news station, New York One. "He's the ultimate publicist for himself and the city. It's very regrettable he couldn't attend the premiere of what I think is an affectionate film."
Koch log line:
Former Mayor Ed Koch is the quintessential New Yorker. Still ferocious, charismatic, and hilariously blunt, the now 88-year-old Koch ruled New York from 1978 to 1989—a down-and-dirty decade of grit, graffiti, near-bankruptcy and rampant crime. First-time filmmaker (and former Wall Street Journal reporter) Neil Barsky has crafted an intimate and revealing portrait of this intensely private man, his legacy as a political titan, and the town he helped transform. The tumult of his three terms included a fiercely competitive 1977 election; an infamous 1980 transit strike; the burgeoning AIDS epidemic; landmark housing renewal initiatives; and an irreparable municipal corruption scandal. Through candid interviews and rare archival footage, Koch thrillingly chronicles the personal and political toll of running the world’s most wondrous city in a time of upheaval and reinvention.