If you haven’t gotten a chance to see Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream, there’s still a week left in the documentary film’s run at the Film Forum. Michael Levine’s labor of love, paying tribute to a Lower East Side institution, was only supposed to play during Passover week. But due to high interest, it was extended!
The film doesn’t close until May 10, so there are several more opportunities to catch a project that’s all about the neighborhood’s past, present and future. Streit’s, of course, sold its LES factory buildings last year and is preparing for a move to Rockland County. The site at 150 Rivington St. is destined to become high-end condos.
The weekly box office at Film Forum topped $13,000, and the film was one of the top 10 grossing new theatrical releases nationwide. In a press release, the film’s distributor, Neil Friedman of Menemsha Films, said, “We had high hopes… but (the initial showings) truly exceeded our expectations. Clearly audiences are connecting not only with the story of Streit’s as a beloved matzo producer, but with the broader themes of gentrification and the disappearance of family businesses and manufacturing, all of which are part of daily life for New Yorkers and others around the country. It seems to have tapped into a cultural zeitgeist.”
Here’s what Levine told us about last week’s first screenings:
It was a great week. We had some fantastic Q&As with members of the Streit family (co-owners Aaron Gross and Aron Yagoda) and Elissa Sampson, whose insights are always a pleasure to listen to. I was part of each Q&A, and while I always got a few questions from the audience (ie, but why a film about matzo?!), as is always the case at screenings, the Streit family got most of the questions, which I love to see, because people finally get a chance to talk to the family whose matzo has been a part of their family for however many generations… We also had a great Q&A with longtime Streit’s mechanic, Angelo Curto, who was responsible for keeping those five floors of ancient machinery running at the factory on Rivington Street, and now will have a whole new round of machinery to contend with in Rockland County. While I know he’s excited for the new equipment and perhaps fewer breakdowns to deal with, his passion for that amazing old machinery is palpable. This fall, he’ll be unloading the seven tractor trailers of machinery they saved from the old factory and rebuilding it in working order at the new factory as part of the museum they’re building.
Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream screens twice daily, at 3:40 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., at Film Forum. For tickets and showtimes, visit the film’s website. Levine and Streit family members will be doing another Q&A after this afternoon’s show.