Side Streets

Director: Tony Gerber
Screenwriters: Tony Gerber

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Side Streets is a fusion of contemporary New York City folktales. Director Tony Gerber humorously sketches five different scenarios taking place in New York’s five boroughs on a sweltering-hot summer day.
Side Streets is based on Gerber’s short film, Small Taste of Heaven, which screened at Sundance in 1997. He took that story about a Romanian butcher’s apprentice living in Queens and expanded it to include other New York ethnic and cultural communities. In Manhattan, Sylvie, wonderfully portrayed by Valeria Golino, has come to America from Italy to make it as a fashion designer and has only one night left to realize her dream; in Staten Island, Vikram, a proud and aging Indian movie idol (played by Shashi Kapoor, a real Indian movie idol), must find the courage to leave his brother’s house gracefully because he has obviously overstayed his welcome; in Brooklyn, a West Indies man tries everything to steal the car keys back from his angry wife so he can cruise around with his buddies in his Cadillac; and in the Bronx, Ramon must prove his love to Marisol by buying her a pageant dress he can’t afford.
Gerber intertwines the tales just enough to keep the audience guessing about how the characters relate. His meticulous attention to location, wardrobe, and music make it easy to differentiate the story lines. Side Streets takes an honest, gutsy look at New York rarely seen in film, and in the spirit of the city itself, proves that dreams sometimes come true.

Tony Gerber, Director
Tony Gerber is a graduate of Columbia University’s graduate film program. His short film, A Small Taste of Heaven (Sundance 1997), became the basis for the screenplay for his first feature Side Streets, which he cowrote with playwright Lynn Nottage. Other recent work includes the film featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Rent; a short film QM, with Ann-Sofi Siden; and Ruins, a world travel series for Japanese television. Gerber currently teaches screenwriting at Columbia University.

— Mary Kerr

Screening Details

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