“OFF DUTY” — SECOND DISPATCH FROM INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK
Every blog post I write during IFP will include a profile of a cab driver talking about their favorite film. This profile is about my mother, who drove a cab after she graduated college in 1971…
I would stand in the front of my mirror singing, “I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and gay. And I pity any girl who isn’t me today.” It was my own special passion that I kept secret.
West Side Story, as old people say, “they don’t make them like they used to.” It was so sad. She was so in love with Tony, but wasn’t allowed to love him. I don’t know if one or both died. It was about an Itallian and Hispanic gang. People said it was a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. (Click to watch “I feel pretty” from West Side Story).
Oh my god I can’t remember when I saw it, maybe I was 13. We would take the bus to the train to Forest Hills. There would be 2 movies and a cartoon. I don’t remember going on time, you would just show up and the movie would all ready be playing on loop. You would stay for a day. 25 cents and it was worth it.
I was the first women in my taxi company, it was fun. I drove a cab after I graduated college. It was a dangerous job, but my parents didn’t say no. The company didn’t have a women’s bathroom and there were nude pictures on the wall. The manager didn’t think I needed money, and would give my cab to the male drivers with families. My shift was 6am to 6pm. I liked seeing the sun rise. I liked seeing passengers’ expressions when I pulled up and they realized I was a women.
-Beverly Zagofksy (My mom and X-cab driver)
My producer Jean Tsien and myself both come from immigrant families that came to New York City for a chance at the American Dream. I know it sounds cliched and corny, but it is true. Jean’s father worked in a Chinese restaurant and my mother and grandfather drove taxi cabs. In Off Duty, the documentary we are making, we are telling the story of the most diverse group of people on the planet. The people who make up cab drivers are more diverse than the United Nations!
After the first day of market I remind myself that nothing happens overnight. Nobody suddenly gives you a million dollars to make your film. Nobody suddenly wins an Academy Award. Things like the Independent Film Week are just another part of the incremental game we play as filmmakers. Like fishing you keep on changing your bait until you catch the fish. And most days you don’t ever catch a fish. It is with this state of mind that I have finished my meeting at the project forum today. When someone writes me a check you will all be the first ones to know.
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