Lovely Lily Warmly Received In Jackson Heights
New Independent Film By Jackson Heights Producer
Jackson Heights / February 8, 2009. Lovely Lily is a new independent film written and produced and acted in by Celeste Balducc, who stars as Lily. I went to the opening on Sunday evening, and had the opportunity to view the film with a full house, which included many of the film cast members, and Queens Borough president, Helen Marshall. Celeste Balducci and Helen Marshall are pictured in the photo to the right.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the film screening as fans lined up along 77th Street near 37th Avenue in front of the Jewish Center where the screening was held. Lily and fellow cast members arrived in a white stretch limousine. There were camera lights, applause and excitement as Lily stepped out into public view … lights, action, camera!
Film Review – A Day In The Life Of Lily
The film is about ‘a day in the life of’ Lily, which as it happens coincides with the Beatles’ entry onto the American pop culture scene via the Ed Sullivan Show right here in NYC. The film takes place in Jackson Heights most notably at the Cavalier Restaurant on 37th Avenue, but other sites around the neighborhood are also featured.
The story is about the life of Lily, a sort of washed up lounge singer, who works at the Cavalier Restaurant as an entertainer. It’s about her life in the 24 hours preceding the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. She’s aware that a new sound is coming and that she’s not a part of it. As the movie progresses we learn that her estranged daughter and a former lover, who is also the bar owner, both work at the lounge where she performs. In a sort of twisted love triangle, the lounge owner is now involved with Lily’s daughter. The relationship angle of the movie definitely piqued my curiosity, as it involves a father / daughter relationship [owner and Lily’s daughter] as well as a mother / son affair [Lily and one of the lounge employees]. Since it’s a ‘day in the life of’ movie, I was left to accept these relationships at their face value, but there’s probably some interesting stuff in there which one might find pursue in a second or third viewing.
Trip Into The Jackson Heights Of 1964
The film is woven together via transitions and segues consisting primarily of clean shots of an old fuzzy television screen, as well as other nostalgic icons of the fifties / sixties era including the large glass tube / plastic radios, consumer products with their classic fifties-era labeling and consumer magazines bearing images of the celebrities of the time. To the left is an example of one of the iconic images of the time.
The theme was one of change. Fun and exciting change on the national / international stage, like the Beatles arriving on CBS television with their new hair styles, hip rock clothing and British accents. That stands in contrast to the lonely, difficult, poignant change simultaneously occurring on a grass roots level, in real lives on the small stage of real life on the main street of 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. As the new sweeps in, the old gets swept out.
Lily appeared to be living a sort of rough life, having recovered from problems related to alcohol, which had affected her relationships. But through it all, Lily hangs onto her connection to her church, which back then was more of an integral part of people’s lives than it is today. The film also touches on the social mores of the time, when African Americans were not allowed to walk through the front door of the lounge. Even the great jazz musicians of the time. But while that was the norm, it offended the sensibilities of many, including Lily.
All in all it was an entertaining, nostalgic look at a day long past. Lovely Lily is sure to become a classic film of, by and for Jackson Heights Queens. Kudos to Celeste Balducci and the rest of her cast, all of who seemed to authentically play the roles they filled, and brought to life what would seem to be a very genuine portrayal of Jackson Heights some forty five years ago. To the left are some of the cast members including [from left to right] Ben Fine, Lisa Burns, Ana Bajlo, Dylan Maida and Claire Chapin who in real life also stars as Celeste Balducci's daughter.
It's worth noting that one and a half years after appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles played to a sell out crowd at Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. At the time actress / producer Celeste Balducci was a little girl living in nearby Jackson Heights.
Lovely Lily At The Jewish Center Jackson Heights NY - Related Links
Click this link to see a map of the location of the Jackson Heights Jewish Center where the event took place. Click this link to go to the Jackson Heights & Elmhurst Neighborhood News / Jackson Heights & Elmhurst Shop Announcements.