g The Film Panel Notetaker: "Florent: Queen of the Meat Market" - Sneak Preview Screening at NewFest

Monday, June 08, 2009

"Florent: Queen of the Meat Market" - Sneak Preview Screening at NewFest

NewFest 2009
Sneak Preview Work-in-Progress Screening
Florent: Queen of the Meat Market
June 6, 2009

Photo by Kelly Deegan.
NewFest welcomed filmmaker David Sigal to show a rough cut sneak preview of his feature-length documentary Florent: Queen of the Meat Market, about charming and provocative restaurateur Florent Morellet whom last year closed his legendary diner in New York’s Meatpacking District. Through thick and thin, even when he learned that he was HIV positive, Florent seemed to have a passion for entertaining and feeding his colorful clientele, as well as a creative flair for political activism. They came not only for the great food, but also for the wild and crazy entertainment from drag queens to burlesque to comedy. It was an unusual and fabulous extended family. Sigal brings to life the humble beginnings of Florent in 1985 until its bittersweet closing in 2008 due to the extraordinary spike in rent. The film shows not only Florent (the man and his restaurant), but the people who have worked there over the years reminiscing about all the memorable and crazy moments that occurred there. Among the interviewees in the film are Julianne Moore, Isaac Mizrahi, Diane von Fürstenberg, Michael Musto, Sylvia Miles, Jacquie Hoffman, Murray Hill, Nora Burns, David Rakoff, Penny Arcade and many more.

Sigal, Florent, and other collaborators on the film came to the stage for a Q&A that NewFest Documentary Chair Cameron Yates moderated. Sigal mentioned to the audience that this was the first time Florent has seen the film, and Florent said it was wonderful. Florent looked sharp in vibrant pants that were a hue which seemed to mix fuchsia, magenta and lavender. Sigal also handed out a questionnaire to the audience to fill out to provide their feedback on the film, as it’s still a work in progress.

Yates asked Sigal how he become involved with Florent in making this documentary. Sigal said he’d been a customer, not one of those middle of the night people, but more of a breakfast person. The more he got to know more about Florent, the more he got to admire what he’s done for everybody. He was a role model.

One member of the audience asked Florent what he’s doing today since the restaurant closed and what’s become of the space? Florent jokingly replied that he’s never heard that question before. But for real, he tries not to talk or to give information as much as possible about the space. He thinks it’s great that the restaurant had a 23-year life. He realized that it had an end and it was kind of an enjoyment. Now he’s working on other projects, but nothing is set in stone. He would like the next place to be a restaurant with a cabaret with the same suspects involved. He’s tired of “doing the French cancan on the counter.” He’ll also continue to work on his maps. He has been working on memoir writing with a teacher and prophesized that one day their may be a book about him, but not till after he dies. “Retirement is exhausting,” he said and the audience laughed with him.

- Notes by Brian Geldin and Kelly Deegan

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