Straight Outta Yonkers: YoFi Fest 2015

Three years ago on a crisp autumn evening, I strolled into the inaugural Yonkers Film Festival wearing my finest. Hanging on my arm was Laura Pavlo, some-time writing partner and full-time girlfriend. We (somewhat aimlessly) drifted across the packed atrium until bumping into a tall man wearing a distinct Goonies t-shirt. It was Scott Rocco.

The following day our short Socks & Robbers screened beside his film, Come As You Are. Only my second short film and first submission to a festival, Socks & Robbers debuted at the first Yonkers Film Festival (aka YoFi Fest) and served as the basis for a great relationship with the festival team. As locals, we gunned for the fest immediately, amazed at our fortune that such an event sprung up in our backyard. The following year, we bumped into Scott once again in the exact same spot (this time rocking a Rolling Stones t-shirt) and three months later we teamed up for Washed Up.

Fielding questions during a Q&A for “Socks & Robbers” at the inaugural festival.

Fielding questions during a Q&A for “Socks & Robbers” at the inaugural festival.

A four-day festival, there is a lot to enjoy besides our own showings. After our meta-film Off Script screened to a great crowd, I found myself watching a man struggle to escape from a cardboard box. The premise of this short, Trapped in a Box, absolutely floored me. Screening beside several other comedies, it shocked my senses and I jumped at the opportunity to meet the filmmaker afterward. Half a year later, as co-writer Tom Selenow and I stared at the script for Bottomstock, I knew who we needed to cast.

Lucas Harvie transitioned from his box to the titular Bottomstock, immediately exceeding expectations and turning in an unforgettable performance as our protagonist. Not to be outdone in the YoFi-collaboration category, Bottomstock featured Scott Rocco as well. In fact, every character from the film appeared in a YoFi-screened film, including Audra Van Hees (Somewhere Between), Wesley Volcy (Come As You Are, Somewhere Between) and of course Laura Pavlo (Off Script, co-wrote Socks & Robbers).

Harvey drives to Yonkers in a scene from “Bottomstock”

Harvey drives to Yonkers in a scene from “Bottomstock”

It is only fitting that in its third go-round, both Bottomstock and Washed Up will hit the big screen at YoFi 2015. Bottomstock will precede Bill Murray’s St. Vincent after the red carpet ceremony on Friday, October 23rd (7 PM). Washed Up returns for its (potentially) final festival screening the following day at 2 PM.

We are revved up for this year’s festivities and hope to see you there!

Ben Fraternale