Story of Berkeley’s Moe’s Books comes to big screen

Siciliano Trevino held a screening Aug. 27 of her new documentary at the Elmwood Theater. Photo: Ted Friedman
Siciliano Trevino held a screening Aug. 27 of her new documentary at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood theater. Photo: Ted Friedman

The film that was found at the Berkeley dump of the 1965 opening night party for Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue now has a film of its own.

Thursday night was the premiere of New Mo’ Cut: David Peoples’ Lost Film of Moe’s Books, produced and directed by Siciliana Trevino. Dozens of people who had backed the film on Kickstarter, worked on it, or supported it in other ways, crowded into the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood for a screening. The general public got to see it at 8 p.m.

Siciliana Trevino (center) greets supporters at the Elmwood Theater on Aug. 27. Photo: Ted Friedman
Siciliana Trevino (center) greets supporters at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood theater on Aug. 27. Photo: Ted Friedman

The 13-minute documentary tells the story behind the discovery of the film at the dump and the series of connections and events that happened as a result. In brief: Kevin Laird, working as a scavenger for Urban Ore, discovered the small silver film canister with the words “New Mo’ Cut,” on it. He looked at a few frames and saw a familiar looking brown haired man in a top hat and he figured it was Moe Moskowitz, the owner of Moe’s Books. So Laird brought the film to Doris Moskowitz, who now runs the bookstore, in Nov. 2014. Doris gave the film to Gibbs Chapman, a film technician for the Pacific Film Archive, to repair.

Berkeleyside wrote about the found footage in February. Michael Hackenberg, a book dealer, saw the story and emailed John Levy, a friend and client who had lived in Berkeley since the 1950s. He thought Levy, who had also shot footage during the turbulent 1960s, might know who made the film. It took Levy just a few seconds to realize that David Peoples, whose screenplays have been nominated for Academy Awards, must have made the film. Levy and Peoples had been close in the 1960s, but the two men hadn’t seen one another in a decade. But Levy remembered Peoples talking about Moe.


Peoples had thought the film found at the dump was safely ensconced in his garage, but it wasn’t. He had thrown it out accidentally.

Siciliana Trevino and Doris Moscovitz answer questions at the Elmwood Theater after a screening of "New Mo' Cut." Photo: Ted Friedman
Siciliana Trevino and Doris Moskowitz answer questions after a screening of New Mo’ Cut. Photo: Ted Friedman
The screening of "Ne Mo' Cut." Photo: Ted Friedman
The screening of New Mo’ Cut. Photo: Ted Friedman

Trevino’s documentary tells this story in a lighthearted and engaging way. She has entered the film into the Sundance Film Festival and will be holding screenings around Berkeley. Michael Coleman was the director of photography.

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Berkeleyside was a sponsor of  ‘New Mo Cut,’ and Trevino is a former Berkeleyside employee.

Related:
New film will tell the story of salvaged Moe’s Books film (04.15.15)
Bladerunner screenwriter made long lost film of Moe’s Books (03.11.15)
Film of famous Moe’s Books party found at Berkeley dump (02.20.15)

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