Strong Week: ‘Seven Days in New York’ is a rock solid doc

Bike doctor Hal. Film still courtesy the filmmaker.

Independent filmmaker, 12-year Gothamite, and tart nostalgist Fredgy Noël populates her satisfyingly candid documentary with one longtime New Yorker for each day of the week — outsized personalities all, but none of them reduced to the sort of “boy, they sure are real a character”-type depictions that have soured so many other lazy and/or uninformed attempts to get under the Big Apple’s skin.

A smart decision by director/cinematographer/editor Noël to sit back and observe rather than engage her subjects in conversation or bring third party talking heads into the mix pays off every time, revealing hidden dimensions and yielding quiet moments that speak volumes (such likable tour guide Sherwood, who, unable to stomach looking at New Jersey because that’s where his ex-wife lives, plays it for laughs then gets caught by the camera having uttered a very telling slip of the lip).

Harlem hair queen Monae. Film still courtesy the filmmaker.

With seven character sketches unfolding in just under 50 minutes, “Seven Days in New York” knows how to dig in and drill down, then move on before we’ve had our fill. Harlem hair queen Monae, Billymark’s West bartender/co-owner Billy, and Bicycle Habitat’s Hal are among the witty, stubborn, natural born charismatics who made it here, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Their incurable love of the city is contagious.

Screening at 8:45pm on Wed., May 31 as part of the NewFilmmakers New York Film Festival at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave., at Second St.). For artist info, visit Festival info at newfilmmakers.comVenue info at

By Scott Stiffler

Bartender/co-owner Billy. Film still courtesy the filmmaker.

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