Film Screening: "The Automat" by Horn & Hardart

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Films, Lecture

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Program Description

Event Details

In collaboration with New Canaan Library, please join us for this live film screening.

Join us after the film for a special Q&A with director Lisa Hurwitz.

About the Film

Americans once sipped coffee and ate pie around communal tables, sharing their struggles and dreams with strangers at Horn & Hardart’s iconic "Automat." Lifetimes ago, these working class palaces nourished a sense of unity that bridged the diversity of class, language, gender and race in the urban melting pots of the East Coast. Featuring an original new song written and performed by Mel Brooks, THE AUTOMAT tells the 100-year story of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, the inspiration for Starbucks, where generations of Americans ate and drank coffee together at communal tables. (Runtime 79 minutes).

From the perspective of former customers – entertainer Mel Brooks, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Horns, the Hardarts, and key employees – we watch a business climb to its peak success and then grapple with fast food in a forever changed America. Travel back in time to experience this unique piece of America’s history, an exciting story and one that may seem strangely familiar. More than just entertainment, "The Automat" is a parable of how we once dined happily together before turning to the isolated and unhappy experience offered by fast food, a bad deal that no amount of advertising can disguise.

About the Director 

Lisa Hurwitz is the Director and Producer of the 2021 Telluride Film Festival Official Selection "The Automat" a feature documentary film with original music by Mel Brooks and appearances by Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Colin Powell, Howard Schulz, and Elliott should.

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