Q&A: Bob Giraldi on A Poet Long Ago

Based on a story by Pete Hamill, two friends from a Brooklyn grammar school reconnect and realize the impact they and their work had on each other. A Poet Long Ago, directed by Bob Giraldi, screens at HIFF 2013 in the shorts film program Connections.


Please describe A Poet Long Ago in your own words.  

Bob Giraldi: A tale from yesterday that’s as fresh today as ever: a narrow-minded and ignorant father stands in the way of his son attempting to become an artist. This true story about the tough life in a Brooklyn neighborhood has always penetrated my soul.

What inspired you to tell this particular story? Pete Hamill is, of course, a stellar writer.  

BG: Exactly that. Pete Hamill is a stellar writer who has the gift of taking us back to another time when life appeared simpler—but Pete forces us to remember with a unique vividness and emotion that growing up in the city was never quite that simple.

You’ve made everything from music videos (Michael Jackson’s Beat It) to feature films (Dinner Rush), shorts and commercials. But have you ever written poetry?  

BG: Never written poetry. So, I did the next best thing—I used the marvelous poetry that my daughter, Sienna, wrote while at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn.

A Poet Long Ago

Steve Schirripa in ‘A Poet Long Ago’

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?  

BG: That no matter how life turns out, it’s still a life—and hopefully, it can be a productive one. And, that God’s gifts in young people should be treated with incredible respect and careful nurturing.

Do you have one piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers?

BG: Work on a film set. In ANY capacity. Join the indie scene in NY or run to LA and become an intern on a show or at a studio—BUT get on a set and make those relationships! You can grab an HD camera and start shooting, but nothing teaches as well as teachers. The film community is not discriminatory—usually all they want is someone who doesn’t mind getting up early.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival?  

BG: Finding an unusual gem of a film. Not necessarily from Hollywood, but from somewhere around the world—which is the real film community.

A Poet Long Ago screens in the short film program Connections. Tickets | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Bob-Giraldi-headshotDiverse as he is talented, Bob Giraldi has directed everything from television commercials and documentaries to short films and feature films, including Dinner Rush, starring Danny Aiello, John Corbett and Sandra Bernhard, which appeared on a number of Top 10 lists and was selected for The Museum of Modern Art’s Films Series. His commercials and films reside in MoMA’s permanent collection, Baseball’s Hall of Fame, AICP permanent collection, Advertising Hall Fame and the Art Director’s Club alongside artists such as Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Mary Ellen Mark and Bruce Weber.