BOOKWARS

Unemployed in New York City after his late 1980s college graduation, Jason Rosette started selling books on the street. He soon became a full-time street bookseller, collecting from rummage sales, library clearances, and even dumpsters. His career brought him into contact with other remarkable characters who sold books on the street: Marvin, a self-styled man of God with a jaunty black hat and fondness for betting on horses; Polish Joe, a tobacco enthusiast with a five-pack-a-day habit and a sixth sense for knowing when bad weather will thin out his competition; Slick Rick Sherman, who does magic tricks to pass the time and has mastered the art of book-selling psychology; and Peter Whitney, who creates sculptures and collages that document his fascination with toads. Rosette began documenting the culture of street booksellers on videotape and Super-8 film in 1995, just as New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani began to crack down on street vendors and New York University began to lose patience with the book dealers operating near their campus.

BookWars, Rosette's first film, was named Best Documentary at the 2000 New York Underground Film Festival.

-- Mark Deming All Movie Guide