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The Documentary

Whether as a teenager enjoying the boardwalk of Coney Island, a draftee in the Korean War, a young artist in the Bebop-infused Manhattan “Jazz Loft,” or a teacher at a small college in hippy backwoods Vermont, Harold Feinstein consistently felt compelled to share his uniquely appreciative eye through his 35 mm black and white photographs, which exhibit a deep reverence for life in all its forms.

The rediscovery of Feinstein’s vast and diverse body of work came in his final years, and the film meets him then — in his early eighties and with a zen-like appreciation for the life he lived.

LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND: The Life & Photography of Harold Feinstein is an independent feature documentary about the extraordinary life and work of American photographer Harold Feinstein (April 17, 1931 – June 20, 2015).

A master of black and white street photography, Feinstein’s career spanned over six decades from the late 1940s until the end of his life in 2015. However, after early prominence in the nascent New York photography scene, including having work acquired by Edward Steichen for MoMA at the age of 19, Feinstein turned away from the limelight and was all but forgotten… until now.

A true artist with a unique and inspiring philosophy on life, Harold finally began to receive the recognition he deserved toward the end of his life. That is where the film finds him before re-tracing his story through the lens of his diverse body of work, much of which has never before been seen.

In his 2015 obituary, The New York Times declared him “one of the most accomplished recorders of the American experience.” Throughout the 50s he was frequently exhibiting with contemporaries such as Garry Winogrand and Saul Leiter and collaborating on projects with his close friend W. Eugene Smith. Gallerist Howard Greenberg says Feinstein “occupies high ground in the pantheon of street photography.”

But the course of Feinstein’s life would be forever altered by pivotal circumstances that led him away from the ascendant photography scene in New York, and toward a wholly different way of living, thinking and defining himself creatively.

The rediscovery of Feinstein’s vast and diverse body of work came in his final years and the film meets him then; in his early eighties and with a zen-like appreciation for the life he lived. Through the testimonials of friends, lovers, family members and photography experts, this atmospheric film paints an intimate yet honest portrait of this complex and inspirational underdog of 20th century photography.

This authorized and definitive documentary tells the story of the man behind the pictures — a true original whose philosophy on life is as thrilling to discover now as it was in his prime. LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND: The Life & Photography of Harold Feinstein celebrates his life-affirming, humanistic appreciation for the beauty he saw in all people and the world around him.

Eight film festival laurels

Film Information

Director Andy Dunn
Country United Kingdom
Year 2019
Language English
Runtime 88 minutes
Rating Unrated
Exec. Producers Jock Miller, James Atton, Stuart Cook, Tony Egby, Stuart Matthews, Carrie Scott and Judith Thompson
Editor Lawrence Huck
Sound Design Zhe Wu
Composer Mike Smith
Original Music Thomas Enhco, Josef Leimberg, Thurston Harris, Michael Corber
Screening Venues DOC NYC, 2018, New York, NY Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, 2018, Newburyport, MA • Toronto Jewish Film Festival, 2019, Toronto, CAN Bertha Dochouse, 2019, London, U.K. Curzon Docdays, 2019, London, U.K. Coney Island Film Festival, 2019, Coney Island, NY • HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, 2019, London, U.K. Royal Photographic Society, 2019, Bristol, U.K. Jewish International Film Festival, 2019, Sydney & Melbourne, AUS Cove Street Arts, 2019, Portland, ME UK Jewish Film Festival, 2019, London, U.K. San Diego International Jewish Film Festival, 2020, San Diego, CA

Portrait of British filmmaker Andy Dunn

British filmmaker Andy Dunn has been at the heart of British television for over 15 years, directing and filming projects that have taken him across the globe in pursuit of compelling stories and fascinating people in art, music and culture.

He has made series and biographical specials for BBC 2 and BBC 4 and was a regular director on the flagship BBC arts series, The Culture Show, producing films on design, art history and popular culture.

LAST STOP CONEY ISLAND: The Life & Photography of Harold Feinstein is his first independent feature documentary.

Last Stop would be a welcome tribute at any time, but it's especially bracing when today's constant deluge of visual images can't help but dilute the impact of photography. Dunn's film is fully attuned to the vibrancy and tenderness and sense of possibility in Feinstein's photos, to the life in them.

…[A] loving portrait of a remarkable man...well worth seeking out by anyone with an interest in the history of photography….[T]his is a worthwhile documentary to set alongside recent portraits of Vivian Maier, Robert Frank and Gordon Parks.

In putting the deserved spotlight on one of the most under-stated masters of American photography, Dunn shines a light on life itself... This is a masterful film from Dunn about one of America’s greatest photographers. A legend who we can all learn from.

It's a film glazed in nostalgia, yet not stifled by it. Partly because Feinstein's work was so resistant to it, but also because the film acknowledges and goes to efforts to prove that his work was supremely contemporary.

A Brooklyn native, Feinstein fell in love with photography as a teenager in the 1940s – and, while his pictures and his name may not be familiar to the masses, his life and work provide a snapshot into a bygone era in America. Now a new film is telling his story

"...the picture of a vivacious man who was inexhaustibly curious about the people around him and who often saw the world in an optimistic light, despite the darknesses in his own life."

"Blending archive footage with first-hand interviews, Last Stop Coney Island tracks his forgotten years, questioning why a figure of his gravity disappeared from view. It also includes first-hand conversations with Feinstein himself offering a window into the mind of one of America’s greats."

"a brilliant feat of storytelling, editing, and use of carefully gathered information"

The Early Life and Work of Harold Feinstein
Getting Close to the Subject, Bad Luck Tattoo
Growing Up on the Streets, Punchball
Getting by as an Army Draftee, Selling Sandwiches
New York City and the Jazz Loft
Harold Feinstein, The Master Printer
Drafted Into the Army
The Photo League
Blue Note Records
On Sundance Now (North America only) Sundance Now 
On DVD Buy DVD ($15)