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A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

A Tribute to Das Kleine Fernsehspiel/ZDF: Alternative Filmmaking in Television

Wednesday, November 21, 1979
7:30 p.m. Best Boy
Ira Wohl (1979)

In Wheeler Auditorium

Admission: $2.50

Ira Wohl’s film is the story of his cousin Philly, an energetic man of 52 with the emotional and intellectual age of an eight-year-old. The point of departure for this intimate and touching verité-drama is the filmmaker’s decision to intervene personally in Philly’s life, by convincing his aging parents that it’s time for Philly to “leave home,” and prepare to live on his own in a special outreach set-up for the retarded in New York City. Following its premiere at the New York Film Festival in September, New York Times critic Vincent Canby observed: “Best Boy records Philly’s first four days away from home, though he is always in the company of his cousin-the-filmmaker, who carries the camera, and other members of the crew.... Philly is a special person and his efforts towards some kind of self-sufficiency are material of genuine drama. Best Boy, however, is more than the story of Philly. It’s about a family. Even more affecting than Philly’s first days in school are the scenes we see played - sometimes at the side of the screen - between Philly’s mother and father....” The film is, as Pearl, Philly’s mother, says about life, “a confusion of love and anguish.”
Before making Best Boy, his first feature, Ira Wohl (born 1944) made a number of shorts, including Co-Co Puffs (1972), The Magic Beauty Kit (1974), and the award-winning children’s TV series Big Blue Marble.


• Directed and Edited by Ira Wohl. ZDF Production Executive, Eckart Stein. Photographed by Tom McDonough. With Philip Wohl, Pearl Wohl, Max Wohl, Frances Reiss, Norman Reiss. (1979, 110 mins, color, Print Courtesy of International Film Exchange)