World Fair (United States, 25 min)

Directed by: Amanda Murray


In 1939, on the heels of the Great Depression, millions of people traveled to a former ash dump in Queens, New York, to catch a fleeting glimpse of a better future. WORLD FAIR is a short, impressionistic documentary that weaves together the stories of former fairgoers, now in their eighties and nineties, with archival Kodachrome footage, transporting viewers to the futuristic and hopeful realm of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. WORLD FAIR explores the personal stories contained in photographs and home movies, in illustrations, and in the objects we save. 


The 1939 fair was a spectacle of modern design, technology, and national identity. In recalling these past visions of the future, WORLD FAIR celebrates the art of amateur cinematography, and the role of collecting in our lives. WORLD FAIR conveys the spirit and experience of the fair through the stories of five people who attended: Ephraim Horowitz, who filmed his young wife on closing day in 1940; Helene and Stanley Schlesinger, who rode the Parachute Jump as courageous kids; Seymour Sorkowitz, who felt worlds away from his Brooklyn tenement; and Jim Stevenson, who had his hopes pinned on a certain souvenir. With a mix of fondness and melancholy, these characters reflect on the fair’s purpose in their young lives at the end of a tumultuous decade.