The event, which is free and open to all, includes a screening of the film, followed by Q&A with the filmmakers, and a champagne reception with live music from singer/songwriter John Ryan, a Rochester native whose original songs make up the score of the movie.
The film chronicles the quirky life of a homeless man named Gary who has been decorating John Lennon’s “Imagine” memorial in Central Park for the past 15 years with discarded petals from florist dumpsters. The 40-minute documentary provides a moving look into the trials of homeless life in New York, and the inspiration that only a true Beatles fan can understand. The film follows Gary the self proclaimed “Mayor” as he shares his artwork with thousands of people every day and faces both adversity and encouragement.
In April 2009, the New York City-based NEHST Studios picked up the film for distribution. NEHST is headed by indie film mogul Larry Meistrich, producer of Academy Award winning Sling Blade and Academy Award-nominated You Can Count on Me. The company creates unique opening events to screen their films nationwide. The event in Buffalo marks the first showing of The Mayor of Strawberry Fields. Writer/director Torre Catalano pushed to have the film premiere in Buffalo.
“Buffalo has such a rich art community,” says Catalano. “Whenever I return to visit family and friends, one of my favorite stops is the Albright-Knox. In December, when I walked through the new Burchfield Penney for the first time, I couldn’t think of a better place than Buffalo to kick off the film’s national tour.”
By the age of 26, Torre Catalano. a graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and St. Bonaventure University, has worked for MTV, written for Seventeen magazine and Comedy Central, and has creatively consulted for major labels in the music industry. Most recently he has turned his focus to writing, directing and producing short films, documentaries and viral music videos, including the Emmy Award-winning “Yes We Can” Obama tribute video. In 2007, Catalano formed Evenings Empire Studios in New York City with his cousins Nate and Chris Harar. The company served as the vehicle for several award-winning shorts, as well as the driving force behind the production of The Mayor of Strawberry Fields.
Catalano and the Harar brothers have been making films together for nearly 20 years. Their passion for creating has whisked them from little kids with their uncle's camcorder to professional filmmakers. In the summer of 2007, the trio pulled together to independently produce The Mayor of Strawberry Fields, a project built on the foundation of their love for music. This passion caught the eye of Jojo Pennebaker, a widely respected documentary filmmaker and graduate of the University at Buffalo film school. Pennebaker signed on as Cinematographer for the project. From there, the team sought out the introspective voice of indie singer/songwriter and Rochester native John Ryan to lay the musical bed of the film. Ryan, along with Buffalo native and star recording artist Teddy Geiger, produced the soundtrack.