And here’s one of those projects we truly believe you should support: “Arcade, The Last Night at Chinatown Fair“. With the bombastic Tron Legacy still in our cortex and our youth Street Fighter nostalgic memories we simply had to back this project.
Kurt Vincent & Irene K. Chin are the leading couple behind this documentary which explores the well-known NY arcade paradise during its last week in operation. It closed down 3 months ago after 5 decades of con-operated entertainment… not bad for a local business.
The film will attempt at portraying the subculture that occupied “Chinatown Fair” which stood at 8 Mott Street until last February. It’s always good to try and preserve special parts of our local history right?
Kurt helped by Irene Chin & Anthony Cali for the financial part is now trying to raise some money (goal already covered as it usually happens with great projects on Kickstarter) for the post-production bit (they have to print a few t-shirts, make some PR, editing, soundtrack and all that jazz), and to get it into festivals next year (the most important bit!).
The good thing is that the film will be available for streaming & downloading later on. We can say no more really; ever played Pong, Jurassic Park, some bike racing, or the good old House of Death? Then you’ll certainly identify yourself with these gamers, and their temple.
The film follows the community of spirited gamers as they make their way from Manhattan’s Chinatown to their new home at Next Level in Brooklyn, an arcade started by Chinatown Fair’s former manager Henry Cen.
Chinatown Fair saw the rise and fall of Chinatown tongs, persisted through numerous wars, financial downturns, and outlasted most of its kind – arcades that have been phased out by Xbox’s and Playstation’s and replaced with corporatized family fun centers like Dave and Buster’s. What Chinatown Fair would be unprepared for was the gentrification of its neighborhood.
The arcade was dim and lived-in like a familiar living room or basement, but also part boxing gym — gritty, unpolished, and utilitarian. It was a place with a singular purpose, to provide an arena for intense and passionate competitive play. The arcade was a training ground for some of the best players of all time. Justin Wong, Eddie Lee, Henry Cen, Arturo Sanchez, Sanford Kelly, Michael Mendoza all grew up playing at CF.
Chinatown Fair was also the rare place tolerant of all types, resulting in a community that was as diverse as New York itself. And in many ways I don’t believe CF could have existed anywhere else. It had to be in New York and had to be in Chinatown. The arcade was the embodiment of its surrounding. Everyone felt welcome and was accepted. Not everyone came soley for the video games. A group of LGBT trekked from the outer reaches of the city to the arcade on a daily basis simply because they felt safe there. The arcade was a dysfunctional harmony of noises and flickering light, and uproarious banter.