reviewed by Steve Fesenmaier
Winner of the best documentary award at the NY Underground Film Festival, BookWars is one of the most poignant films of the year. Filmmaker and street bookseller Jason Rosette graduated from NYU, and unable to find a job, starting selling his one possession – tons of books – on the streets of NYC. For three years he stood outside in the weather, along with Pete Whitney, Rick Sherman, Al Mappo, and other people who truly love books.
I had been reading about this film for sometime- ever since it first hit the festival circuit. I really had no idea what “BookWars” meant – did it have something to do with what happened at the SFPL? Or Hawaii? When I finally previewed it, I was enthralled. The immediately of life on the streets was overwhelming. It didnÕt surprise me that the producer, Michel Negroponte, had directed one of the most poignant films ever made about a homeless person, JupiterÕs Wife. Only Michael Moore, famous for Roger and Me, and my two favorite TV series ever, TV Nation and The Awful Truth, has made films like this before Ð humorous and sad, musical and silent. Like Moore, Rosette takes on Mayor GuilianiÕs Quality of Life regime, losing in his case.
There is one public library in this film Ð but it remains unnamed since it gave Rosette some of their discarded books. In our Amazon.com age, this film, more than anything I have seen, returns one to the pre-web world where books were more important than computers.