Biography - Completed 2014

Famous Nathan is the first “insider” documentary on the legendary Brooklyn eatery and iconic New York institution, created in Coney Island in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan Handwerker. Stylistically, the film is as kaleidoscopic and layered as Coney Island itself.

& Awards

Tribeca FF 2014
Coney Island 2014
Best Documentary Feature
Jerusalem FF 2014
Devour 2014
Virginia FF 2014
Berlin JFF 2015
Audience Award
San Francisco Jewish 2015
    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Biography, Documentary
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 86 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Lloyd HANDWERKER
    • Writer(s)
    • Lloyd HANDWERKER
    • Producer(s)
    • Lloyd HANDWERKER (Loquat FIlms), Leslie SINGER (Loquat Films), Madeleine MOLYNEAUX
    • Synopsis
    • No candidate can hope to be elected in this state unless he is photographed eating
      a hot dog at Nathan’s - Nelson Rockefeller

      Give ‘em and let ‘em eat! - A fired-up Nathan Handwerker, standing on a crate in the kitchen, shouting to his workers as customers spill onto the street.
      Famous Nathan chronicles the personal and public history of Nathan’s Famous of Coney Island, the iconic Brooklyn eatery and Coney Island institution, created in 1916 by filmmaker Lloyd Handwerker’s grandfather Nathan Handwerker.

      In 1984, Lloyd started filming interviews with former workers and family members, a journey that took him around the world, as he listened to stories, first-hand accounts, secrets and perhaps a few tall tales.

      Spanning two centuries, this Coney Island inspired roller-coaster ride of a film employs a kaleidoscopic blend of home movies, animation, experimental cinema, historic archival, family photos, never-before heard audio recordings of Nathan, and a series of at once emotional and sometimes hilarious interview ‘encounters’ with the Handwerker family, their tight-knit circle of friends and a group of former Nathan’s employees recounting the days of ‘hustle, bustle, fast food cooked at nano-second speed.’

      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, 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, with the love, support and dedication of his wife Ida and sons Murray and Sol, 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.

      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.