"This guy makes Jack Kerouac look like he lived at home with his mother and went out on the road on weekends." Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker Closing the 14th Annual New York Underground Film Festival is the New York Premiere of Victor Zimet and Stephanie Silber's Random Lunacy: Videos from the Road Less Traveled. All happy families are not alike, as proved by Poppa Neutrino, aka David Pearlman, and his Flying Neutrinos. A wandering soul, a particle spontaneously transforming, Poppa leads his family on a true quest for freedom and adventure. Rather than to drift through the obligations of an ordinary, "sequential" life, Poppa chooses to be what most people recognize as homeless, a lifestyle he elects for himself as well as his ever-expanding family. Unencumbered by any possessions (save, curiously, a video-camera that seems to have been rolling since the early 1980's) the Neutrinos roam the globe, Poppa philosophizing all the way. An astounding wealth of footage captures moments of the fledgling family learning ways of happiness, respect and adulthood from their captain, alongside confessions of mortal doubts and fears stirred by the intensity of Poppa's scarier lessons.
While it may seem that what makes Poppa's life so remarkable is the where-the-wind-takes-him absence of any "plan," try again. This man has a master plan that is always evolving, always growing grander if not more grandiose, but never to outgrow the simple goal of living life randomly and lovingly. At times he makes it look easy and other times impossible. Why can't everyone live this way? Well: we can but we don't, so Poppa's story is modern myth, and as inspiring as you can dream.
"Movies like to pretend they're different, but Random Lunacy really, truly is: Poppa doesn't work, pay rent, listen to doctors or kiss institutional butt. He prefers to invent his life as he goes along, whether he's building a raft out of scraps and sailing the Atlantic, inventing a new football play or touring the world from Mexico to Russia with his band, The Flying Neutrinos. But don't discount the intellect that Poppa uses to back up his wit and daring as leader of his tribe. That's right, tribe. Family is what you call the Waltons. The collection of wives, children, step-children and believers who make up the Neutrinos defies categorization. And so, using Poppa's own videos to augment their tale, Zimet and Silber throw us into a life that intoxicates, infuriates and leaves us panting for each unique and unforgettable adventure. Prepare to be wowed.
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
TRAVELING FAMILY OF BUSKERS FINDS A HOME IN NEW FILM
They had no home, no money, no formal education. Their sole possession - a video camera. Over the course of twenty years, the family group of self-taught Dixieland musicians known as The Flying Neutrinos roved the world, plying their trade on the streets and filming their adventures as they moved. Victor Zimet and Stephanie Silber of HOME TEAM PRODUCTIONS knew a story waiting to happen when they saw one. When Zimet first came upon the family on a Times Square subway platform in 1986, he realized instantly that a film about The Flying Neutrinos was in his future. A first glance at bearded patriarch "Poppa Neutrino," his sax playing, sea-captain wife, Betsy Terrell, and their assortment of five singing, dancing and jiving kids straight out of central casting was all it took.
The result - RANDOM LUNACY: Videos From The Road Less Traveled, is a close-up look at a family's odyssey of survival, adventure, and desire. The hour long documentary unspools on Sunday, April 1, 2007, at the New York Underground Film Festival, New York, N.Y., at 8:45 PM.
"I have recorded video after video, beyond the wildest imagination," Poppa Neutrino says. He's not exaggerating. From a stint in a Mexican circus, to pitting a scrap raft against the Atlantic Ocean, the family quest was fueled by an unwillingness to compromise, and a powerful need to live a self-invented life. "The family regarded themselves as homeless by choice," points out Director Vic Zimet, who also edited the film. "Poppa Neutrino believes that rent is the thing that beats us. They wanted to find an alternative way to survive outside society - and they did."
New York based HOME TEAM PRODUCTIONS is no stranger to telling the story of extraordinary lives; its track record includes profiles on Robert Duvall and Cyndi Lauper for BRAVO, and a 2005 DVD release of SONGS & STORIES, a portrait cum concert film about the late Irish blues guitar great Rory Gallagher.
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers says of HOME TEAM's latest effort, "Movies like to pretend they're different, but RANDOM LUNACY really, truly is. Zimet and Silber throw us into a life that intoxicates, infuriates and leaves us panting for each unique and unforgettable adventure. Prepare to be wowed." In a story that plays like a non-fiction version of The Great Santini meets Mosquito Coast, tellingly revealed family dynamics run from charged to tender. For the kids, a life on the road sometimes felt "like boot camp," as Ingrid Lucia, Poppa's daughter now reports.
Safety was always an issue. The basics of survival informed everyday life, and the lessons were severe. "The film not only looks at what it means to be marginalized in our society," says Co-Director Stephanie Silber. "But it also examines what our choices have to do with our ultimate freedom; and I think most importantly, what has genuine value in a culture jaded by its own affluence."
This singular family story will resonate with anyone who dares to dream of a life lived free. Down and out never looked so rich.
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For further information please contact
Vic Zimet/Stephanie Silber, HOME TEAM PRODUCTIONS
Stephanie directing in Argentina
Stephanie Silber has worked in entertainment and the media for over twenty years. Her theatrical experience includes work both on the boards and behind the scenes, and includes associations with Playwrights Horizons and The Ensemble Studio Theatre. After a stint as a print journalist, writing primarily about entertainment, Silber began producing, writing, and directing long-form documentaries which have aired on outlets such as Court Television, The History Channel and The Learning Channel. Her short film, ENVIRONMENTALISTS UNDER FIRE, for the Sierra Club and Amnesty International, was recognized in 2000 with a Telly Award, and was represented at the Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver, 2002.
Victor directing "Chasing A Dream"
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Victor Zimet is a veteran of the film and television business with over thirty years experience to his credit. He was awarded an Emmy for producing and directing a magazine segment on the victorious 1986 Mets for WNYC-TV. Prior to launching Home Team, he edited many network specials, and developed a stellar reputation at CBS, editing on various series including STREET STORIES with the late Ed Bradley, EYE TO EYE with Connie Chung, and PUBLIC EYE with Bryant Gumbel, during which he received another Emmy nomination. In 1999 he co-produced a story for National Geographic about his friends, The Flying Neutrinos, whom he had discovered busking on a Times Square subway platform in 1986. That family of street musicians, who had so long ago inspired RANDOM LUNACY, had just taken on the Atlantic Ocean in a raft made of scraps. The rest is history.