The Demise of Coney Island
Synopsis: Coney Island isn’t just a place, but a protagonist. An artist tormented with memories of his missing daughter, and a fatal diagnosis from his doctor, Coney Island (Omar Villegas) finds himself staring into the precipice of oblivion. As he teeters between life and death he weighs his options with two old companions, Suicide (Dennis Leroy Kangalee) and Hopeless (Kyonne Smith).
Dennis Leroy Kangalee (Suicide)
Kyonne Smith (Hopeless)
THE DEMISE OF CONEY ISLAND is the fourth film in a series of films shot in Coney Island that we’ve been doing since 2019. The first film in the series BARON SATURDAY OF CONEY ISLAND dealt with the lead character, Coney Island, coming to terms with his death. Baron Saturday the Haitian Vodou Loa (Spirit), helps him understand that his life is over. The second film in the series, PAPA LEGBA OF CONEY ISLAND, dealt with a real estate developer (based on Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump, and based on real events in Coney Island) tragic destruction of a family. In the third film THE BLIND SEER OF CONEY ISLAND, a new Loa (Spirit) is being born and the old Loa Ayezan, Baron Saturday, and Papa Legba are all thrown into a state of confusion as to what it all means. In the final chapter of the series THE DEMISE OF CONEY ISLAND returns to Coney Island (the character from the first film) and the nature of his death. The four films will be combined to become THE SPIRITS OF CONEY ISLAND to be released in 2023.
Brooklyn-born and borough-raised, Vagabond graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts and dropped out of The School of Visual Arts. He began his career in film early on, working on independent black films such as Spikes Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”, where he quickly learned all aspects of filmmaking and forged his own artistic and ideological aesthetic.
The first film that Vagabond produced was the documentary “RICANSTRUCTING VIEQUES”, which told the story of the US military’s occupational abuse of Vieques, Puerto Rico as a training site, through the use of interviews and live musical performance footage of Nuyorican punk rock band Ricanstruction. It opened to an emotional sold-out screening at the first annual NY International Latino Film Festival and opened the Lost Film Festival 4.0 in Philadelphia. The film has gone on to screen across Europe, Australia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and throughout the US.
vagabond would continue to work with Ricanstruction and help found what would become the Ricanstruction Netwerk, a politically radical artist collective in the vein of the Situationist International. vagabond would go on to create murals, posters, pamphlets, and videos and organize political marches, rallies, vigils, art shows, screenings, and protests with the Ricanstruction Netwerk.
His first feature film, “MACHETERO” which he wrote, produced, and directed stars Isaach de Bankolé (The Keeper, Ghost Dog, Coffee and Cigarettes, Manderlay) who plays a French journalist who comes to New York to interview a Puerto Rican “terrorist” in prison about his decision to use violence as a means to free his people. Screened in neighborhood/barrio community centers and squats while still in mid-production, the controversial film engendered political discussion and debate within (and outside of) the Puerto Rican Diaspora and has been called one of the most important and insightful underground political films ever made. In June of 2008 “MACHETERO” was a finalist for Best Film at the Hollywood Black Film Festival and in October of 2008 took home the prize for Best First Film at the International Film Festival South Africa. In 2009 “MACHETERO” is on a world tour participating in eight festivals in seven different countries on four different continents. The film has won six awards around the world.
Recently vagabond has been producing and directing a series of short films that have been screening at film festivals. His short film NO WAY HOME, CONEY ISLAND DREAMING, and SACRED AND PROFANE FACELESS JACKS have all taken home multiple awards at festivals around the world. He’s also just finished a feature-length documentary, ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE FIRE ESCAPE on original Nuyorican poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez. He’s also currently in production on HARLEM’S LAST POET a feature-length documentary on Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets. SPIRITS OF CONEY ISLAND a series of films he’s been doing since 2019 will come together as his 2nd narrative feature film in 2023. He’s also written and is producing and directing AFTERMATH a speculative science fiction film based on a global pandemic, time travel, and global environmental collapse that will hopefully be completed in 2023.