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Time Out, Photograph: Paul WagtouiczSunny's

Here’s how to contribute to a documentary about one of NYC’s most iconic bars

Submissions are open for a film about Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook.

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako

One of NYC’s actually most iconic bars, dive or otherwise, is the subject of a new documentary in progress, and contributions are being collected right now. 

Sunny’s Bar has anchored Red Hook, Brooklyn since the 1890s. Poised near the water on Conover Street, it’s paradoxically popular and the kind of place people like to assign that hackneyed phrase, off the beaten path. It’s also the sort of storied address that everybody wants to have an anecdote about. And area film director Nick Fitzhugh has begun compiling them for a documentary tentatively titled Sunny’s

“Its patrons. Its heartbeat. Its story. Its magic. A bar is its people. And Sunny’s people have made it one of the best bars in the world for longer than nearly any other,” Fitzhugh writes in an introduction to a crowdsourcing doc. “If we are to tell its story right, we must first find all of its people because they are its keeper.”

Visitors are invited to submit contributions here. Questions like, “What is your association with Sunny’s?” and “When was your first time ever at Sunny’s?” precede a section to write “your best/favorite/most dramatic Sunny’s story,” as well as a space to add photos, videos and/or audio. 

Some of the memories shared so far recall moments with Sunny Balzano himself, who took over the long-running family operation in 1994. One of the most famed bar proprietors in NYC history, Balzano passed away in 2016 at the age of 81. Balzano’s widow Tone Balzano Johansen is the bar’s present owner. 

The plan for the film is to chronicle the history and magic of one of the greatest bars in the world and one of New York City’s oldest,” Fitzhugh wrote in an email to Time Out New York

There is no deadline to submit musings and materials at press time, Fitzhugh wrote.

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