Serpico Lives! — September 18

Documentary Screening on September 18

Antonino D’Ambrosio the Director of the documentary Frank Serpico and Frank Serpico in an interview with the Associated Press on November 23, 2017 photo credit AP

The seventh installment of the Michele Giannattasio Lecture Series at Swinging Sixties Senior Center (211 Ainslie Street) will feature the 2017 documentary Frank Serpico on September 18 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The film’s director, Antonino D’Ambrosio, will be present to discuss the film and Joseph Sciorra, PhD of the Calandra Institute will emcee. Admission is free.

The Associated Press (AP) summed up, “[The] documentary Frank Serpico” sees former NYPD police officer Frank Serpico take on Al Pacino (who played him in 1973 movie Serpico), Donald Trump and the NYPD.”

If that sound bite bites your interest enough to push you through the door, you’ll find the full journey this documentary takes you on will keep you in your seat. 1973 film may have made him mononymous, but Frank Serpico is more than just a nutshell section of his life that inspired that movie. The documentary follows his career as one of NYPD’s finest and best known officers, and brings up the early influences that developed his ethics, his southern Italian roots, and finally fills in the blanks of how he’s lived his life after he left the force.

Many residents of Williamsburg know the neighborhood provided the dark setting for the critical event of Frank Serpico’s police career that caught the country’s attention and inspired the 1973 film. 778 Driggs Avenue was where he was shot during a drug bust in February 1971. The circumstances of this shooting are widely viewed as payback for Serpico reporting police corruption to the higher-ups of the NYPD.  There are questions as to why the officers who accompanied him to the bust at Driggs didn’t put out a 10-13 (code for officer in need of assistance). As no investigation was initiated to look into his shooting these questions and others remain unanswered. The documentary reunites Frank Serpico with Arthur Cesare, one of the two officers who were at his side that night. These two together in one room results in a gripping and unexpected exchange.

Frank Serpico’s lesson is one that we have to keep re-learning in America — or, more accurately, it’s one that we forget at our peril.

Variety’s chief film critic, Owen Gleiberman at the beginning of his review states, “Frank Serpico is a finely etched and fascinating documentary,” and concludes, “Frank Serpico’s lesson is one that we have to keep re-learning in America — or, more accurately, it’s one that we forget at our peril. As Serpico explains, he became a loner for 45 years (ever since Serpico) because people expected him to be a certain person: the hero, the knight who swoops in to rescue them from corruption. And what he tells us isn’t just that he’s not that guy (it’s a role he stumbled into). It’s that the whole problem is that people believe a hero can save them. What they need to look to instead, he says, is themselves.” Fellow officers, childhood friends, neighbors, and admirers such as writer Luc Sante and actor John Turturro are among those who share their observations in this documentary.

“Frank Serpico” the seventh installment of Michele Giannattasio Lecture Series will be presented on Thursday, September 18h from 7-9 p.m. (includes Q&A) at Swinging Sixties Senior Center, 211 Ainslie Street. Admission is FREE. This series is brought to you by St. Nicks Alliance and the Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College. To RSVP go to:

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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