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Screening: Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and Photography of Harold Feinstein / London: 15 July 2019

This enchanting feature documentary explores the life and work of a lost master of American photography. In his 2015 obituary The New York Times declared him 'one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience.' yet most people have never heard of him.

The discovery in 2011 of vintage prints, contact sheets, and negatives spanning Feinstein’s 70 year journey in photography was the first chapter in the making of this film. The documentary took on a life of its own, urging the filmmaker to look beyond the pictures and into the life story of the inspiring man who’s search for beauty in the everyday compelled him to click the shutter and capture those moments. Harold Feinstein lived an extraordinary life and his photographs and this story are a gentle but powerful and timely reminder to all of us to stop and appreciate the wonder of life itself.

Last Stop would be a welcome tribute at any time, but it's especially bracing when today's constant deluge of visual images can't help but dilute the impact of photography. Dunn's film is fully attuned to the vibrancy and tenderness and sense of possibility in Feinstein's photos. 

When Harold Feinstein was just 19, Edward Steichen bought three of his prints for the permanent collection at MoMA and during the 50’s and 60’s he was having shows with Saul Leiter, Gary Winogrand and others in the New York School of photographers. He was also a renowned darkroom printer - but he wasn't one to pursue a career, as he was a free- flowing artist with a healthy appetite for the good things in life.

Whether captured as a draftee in the Korean War, in a Bebop infused Manhattan loft or a rural hippy enclave in upstate New York, Harold’s 35mm black and white photographs captured the essence of life with a with a uniquely humanist eye. The rediscovery of Feinstein’s vast and diverse body of work came in his final years and the film meets him then; in his early eighties and with a zen-like appreciation for the life he lived.

Filmmaker Andy Dunn spent precious time with Harold in his Massachusetts home and also on one last road trip to his beloved birthplace, Coney Island. Through the testimonials of friends, lovers, family members and photography experts, this atmospheric film paints an intimate, yet critical, portrait of this complex and inspirational underdog of 20th century photography.

A renowned teacher and spiritual guide with a hedonistic outlook for life, Feinstein is remembered as a guru as well as an artist by those who knew him - a true original whose philosophy on life is as thrilling to discover now as it was in his prime. With unrestricted access to his archive, much of it unseen before, the film shows how Feinstein’s unique outlook on life was reflected in his life-affirming photography.

Last Stop Coney Island: The Life and
Photography of Harold Feinstein
Doc Days screening & Q&A at CURZON Soho
Monday, 15 July 2019, 6:30pm

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