FAMOUS NATHAN is a feature-length documentary about Nathan’s Famous of Coney Island, the iconic Brooklyn eatery and Coney Island institution, created in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan and his wife Ida. Spanning two centuries, this visually rich, roller-coaster ride of a film employs a kaleidoscopic blend of home movies, historic archival, family photos, never-before heard audio recordings of Nathan, and a series of at once emotional and often hilarious interview ‘encounters’ with the Handwerker family, their tight-knit circle of friends and a group of former Nathan’s employees recounting the highs and lows of their tenure.
Ultimately, the film is a testament to a true American success story and the fighting spirit of a consummate New York family-run business. Nathan Handwerker, raised in Poland, one of 13 brothers and sisters from a poor Jewish family, came to New York, in 1919, unable to read, write or speak a word of English. By the 1930s he’d created one of the most loved placed to eat anywhere in the world. For decades, millions flocked to the larger-than life playground known as Coney Island and without a doubt, Nathan’s was the soul of Coney Island. Yet even as developers attempt to re-invent Coney Island following decades of decline, the original Nathan’s Famous remains. As the centennial of Nathan’s approaches in 2016, Famous Nathan stands as an intimately personal love letter, thirty years in the making, to parents, grandparents, workers, eaters, and all lovers of Coney Island and Nathan’s Famous.