An Encore Screening of "Dreamland: The Coney Island of the Mind"

Poster by Philomena Mattes.

Join us on Wednesday, September 6th, at 7pm, at the FMC Screening Room (475 Park Avenue South, 6th Floor) for an encore screening of Philomena Mattes' Coney Island-themed film program!


Called “America’s Playground,” “The Poor Man's Paradise,” “Sodom by the Sea,” or simply and most aptly, “Dreamland,” Coney Island has been, for 150 years, the mythic-iconic, fever-dream stage-setting of summer vacation. Sprung up along the rough edge of the working-class immigrant communities of South Brooklyn, Coney is both the prototypical, all-American amusement park packed with dazzling lights and sky-high thrill rides, soft ice cream and hot dogs, as well as a seedy site of titillating and transforming encounters with the sexual, forbidden and other— under the circus tents at the freak show, on stage at the striptease, cruising beneath the boardwalk or groping in the darkness on the Tunnel-of-Love. Though burned to the ground on half a dozen occasions and marked by periods of neglect, Coney Island and its singular power of attraction have endured, and have remained a favorite muse for generations of the city’s artists and filmmakers.

These short works selected from the Film-Makers’ Cooperative archive depict Coney Island from the 1920s to the present, tracing the history of its boom-and-bust cycle of decay and rebirth, and capturing its unique visual vocabulary of hand-painted carny banners, fantastical architecture, and glowing neon signage. But most importantly (and intriguingly), they explore Coney Island’s emotional and psychological resonance as one of America’s truly mythic territories: “the Coney Island of the mind,” a dreamland that invokes childhood, memory, and desire.

Every nation needs orgiastic escape from respectability— that is, from the world of What-we-have-to-do into the world of What-we-would-like-to, from the world of duty that endureth forever into a world of joy that is permitted for a moment [...] Perhaps Coney Island is the most human thing that God ever made or permitted the devil to make. -Richard Le Gallienne



  1. Arcade Isle (2010), Kat Bauer, 8 minutes, 16mm, silent, color
  2. Sodom By the Sea (1989), Harriet Hirshorn & Mary Patierno, 17 minutes, 16mm, sound, color
  3. Grandma’s House (1965), Bob Fleischner, 24.5 minutes, 16mm, sound, B&W
  4. Coney Island (1987), Peter Cramer, 13 minutes, digital, sound, color
  5. Five selections from The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society’s Dream Films (2009), Zoe Beloff, 16.5 minutes, digital, sound and silent, color and B&W
  6. Ricki Ticki (2010), Sarah Friedland6 minutes, digital, sound, color
  7. Go Go Go (1964), Marie Menken, 12 minutes, 16mm, silent, color

Total Run Time: 97 minutes.