“DCTV @ 50” Spotlights Pioneers Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, James Gandolfini Docs + More

Moderators Added: Steve Buscemi & Nathan Silver | Retrospective “DCTV @ 50” Spotlights Pioneers Jon Alpert & Keiko Tsuno, James Gandolfini Docs + More

Firehouse Cinema Announces Retrospective “DCTV @ 50” Celebrating 50 Years of DCTV and the First Anniversary of Firehouse Cinema


Series Spotlights the Pioneering Works of DCTV’s Co-Founders Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno

Highlights Include: Emmy-Winning Titles LIFE OF CRIME and THIRD AVENUE, James Gandolfini’s Doc Collaborations with DCTV, a Video Installation with Never-Before-Seen Footage and More


With Jon Alpert, Keiko Tsuno and James Gandolfini’s Son, Michael Gandolfini, in person. Q&As moderated by Steve Buscemi, Nathan Silver, and More!


Runs September 21-28


DCTV’s 50th anniversary coincides with the first birthday of our new Firehouse Cinema. To celebrate these twin milestones, we are thrilled to present “DCTV @ 50,” which unearths our archives to connect past and present. Spanning five decades and traversing landscapes from Canal Street to Cuba, this series spotlights the work of DCTV’s co-founders: the pioneering video journalist Keiko Tsuno and Academy Award-nominee Jon Alpert. Together and independently they have documented everything from addiction struggles to the casualties of war to the triumphs and tribulations of college basketball.

DCTV has produced countless award-winning documentaries and hosted community screenings that have brought about both local change here in New York and awareness of global issues. A lot has changed in 50 years, as Alpert remembers: “We used to show our documentaries on the corner of Canal Street from an oíd mail truck we bought for $5. It took 50 years to build the DCTV Firehouse Cinema, this beautiful palace for documentary films.”


Join us for screenings and conversations with special guests that honor our storied history within the documentary film community and the extended family who have made our work possible. Highlights include: screenings of Emmy-winners THIRD AVENUE: ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE and LIFE OF CRIME, an evening celebrating James Gandolfini’s documentary collaborations with DCTV, and a video installation with never-before-seen footage of the Nicaraguan and Salvadoran revolutions and casual banter with Fidel Castro.



Thu Sep 21, 6:00pm
Q&A with Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, Moderated by Nathan Silver

Dir. Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno | 1980 | 58 min
This Emmy Award-winning documentary tells the stories of six “ordinary” people who live or work along New York City’s Third Avenue, which runs for sixteen miles through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, cutting through the complex social strata of the city to reveal wildly different economic and ethnic subcultures. The subjects speak for themselves, offering candid glimpses into the disparate worlds of a junkyard dealer who steals cars, a Bowery bum and the wife he abandoned, a welfare mother living in a condemned building with her five children, a male prostitute, a devout Puerto Rican factory worker, and an aging Italian barber and his wife. Called “a triumph of its kind” by The Washington Post, this unsentimental portrait of the uncommon lives of common people is a subjective sociological study of survival in urban America. (Source: Electronic Arts Intermix)

Preceded by:
Video Television Review: Downtown Community Television Center 
VTR | 1975 | 29 min

As an introduction to our series, this interview is a window into the early days of DCTV. Produced as part of the Video Tape Review series of New York public television station WNET/Thirteen, it features interviews with Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno interspersed with excerpts from their extensive body of work documenting everyday life in Chinatown and Lower East Side of New York City, from vibrant performances by neighboring arts organizations to a rowdy school board meeting, into Cuba.


LIFE OF CRIME: 1985-2020

Fri Sep 22, 6:30pm
Q&A with Jon Alpert

Dir. Jon Alpert | 2021 | 121 min
Life of Crime: 1984-2020, is the culmination of 36 years of work from multiple Emmy Award-winning producer/director Jon Alpert. The third and final part of an epic documentary trilogy tells the full story of three friends from Newark, New Jersey whose lives have been defined by and torn apart by their addictions.

With unfettered access, the film bears witness to each of their journeys in and out of prison, rehab, and in occasional jobs as they struggle to end the vicious cycles of drug use and to connect with the families they left behind.



Sat Sep 23, 1:00pm

Dir. Keiko Tsuno and Peter Kwong | 1998 | 50 min
Less than a mile long, Canal Street is the dirtiest and noisiest, but also the most vibrant and dynamic street in New York City. For over a century, new immigrants have expected Canal Street to furnish the American Dream, to provide an opportunity to work hard and build a future. Emmy award-winning producer Keiko Tsuno and Professor Peter Kwong take us on an insider’s tour of this bustling street, where immigrant businesspeople are caught between the forces of the Law and a street with a law of its own.



Sat Sep 23, 2:30pm
Q&A with Jon Alpert

Dir. Jon Alpert | 2017 | 113 min
Emmy-winning filmmaker Jon Alpert chronicles the fortunes of three Cuban families over the course of four tumultuous decades in the nation’s history. This multigenerational portrait of Cuba earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Historical Documentary.



Sun Sep 24, 1:00pm
Q&A with Jon Alpert

Dir. Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill | 2006 | 64 min
The 86th Combat Support Hospital (CSH)–the U.S. Army’s premier medical facility in Iraq–is the setting for this unforgettable documentary. In addition to profiling the doctors and nurses at the 86th who fight to save wounded soldiers, the film provides vivid frontline rescue footage along with tension-filled scenes of soldiers patrolling one deadly stretch of highway. Winner of four Emmy Awards.

Preceded by:

Dir. Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neil | 2013 | 35 min
 is a documentary about New York City’s canners – the men and women who survive by redeeming bottles and cans they collect from curbs, garbage cans and apartment complexes. You’ve seen them combing through the trash, but never got to meet them. The film is an unexpected and intimate look at post-industrial gleaners, struggling at the edge of our society.



Tue Sep 26, 7:00pm
Q&A with Jon Alpert, Michael Gandolfini, and Tom Richardson
Moderated by Steve Buscemi

While many knew James Gandolifini for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, DCTV knew James Gandolfini as a committed advocate for the rights and welfare of America’s war veterans. We proudly worked with him on several documentaries, including ALIVE DAY MEMORIES: HOME FROM IRAQ and WARTORN: 1861-2010. As a DCTV Board Member from 2012 until his death, he supported all of DCTV’s work, especially DCTV Youth Media and DCTV Productions. He believed in documentary film as one of the best tools to shift cultural perspectives, and created some very powerful projects in the course of his lifetime. 

This program will screen a selection of the following films:

Dir. Jon Alpert and Ellen Goosenberg Kent | 2007

A new generation of veterans is returning from Iraq. For these survivors, two days will forever memorialize their lives: their birthday and their Alive Day–the day they narrowly escaped death. This HBO Documentary Films production presents the first-person stories of ten Alive Day heroes as told to Emmy(R)-winning actor James Gandolfini.

WARTORN: 1861-2010
Dir. Jon Alpert, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Matthew O’Neill | 2010

Executive produced by James Gandolfini (HBO’s Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq) and produced by award-winning filmmakers Jon Alpert, Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Matt O’Neill, this 75-minute HBO Documentary Films presentation explores combat stress and posttraumatic stress on military personnel and their families throughout recorded American military history.

Beginning with the first documented cases from the Civil War, the film examines occurrences of PTSD through two World Wars and Vietnam, as well as more recent cases involving soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories are told through soldiers’ revealing letters and journals; photographs and combat footage; first-person interviews with veterans of WWII, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom; and interviews with family members of soldiers with PTSD. 



Wed Sep 27, 6:00pm

Dir. Jon Alpert | 2005 | 84 min
The Last Cowboy follows 23 years in the life of Vern Sager, a real American cowboy in one of the most isolated places in America – the Badlands of South Dakota. Out on the range with temperatures so extreme a herd can freeze overnight, Vern faces an army of adversaries: cattle rustlers, international agribusiness, old age, the weather, and the wanderlust of his own family.



Wed Sep 27, 8:00pm

Dir. Jon Alpert | 1998 | 77 min
Winners of the 1996 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers seemed poised to contend for the trophy again. But halfway through the 1997 season, the team was not living up to their promise. They were losing almost every important game of the season. Injury to a star player, Kellie Jolly, didn’t help. It seemed that even the remarkable efforts of Chamique Holdsclaw would not keep the team from falling apart. Could this team really win again? 



Thu Sep 28, 7:00pm
Q&A with filmmakers

At the heart of DCTV is its Youth Media programs. The Reel Change features a selection of impactful youth-made films throughout the decades. Through the lens of our young filmmakers, witness the evolution of social consciousness and activism, and experience the collective voice of young people striving for a better world.

tmc.io contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for tmc.io. I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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