The year was 1970. I was an introverted high school kid in Brooklyn who was mesmerized by film. Far removed from Kings County lay my Mecca, the New York Film Festival, a showcase for French New Wave, Italian, British, Third World Cinema and New Hollywood movies.
I had no money, and there was the matter of attending school, but I felt I had to go to the festival. Succumbing to the magical, corrupting power of the movies, I went against my mild, obedient, ethical character and decided to pretend to be a film journalist.
I applied for a press pass as a writer for Rolling Stone, having heard they sometimes used teenage correspondents. And, since they were located in faraway San Francisco, I figured I had a shot at the deception.
Lo and behold I was given a press pass. I watched four movies a day: films by Chabrol, Bertolucci, Truffaut, Rafelson, Godard, Herzog, and Ray. I also got the chance to see many great directors in-person I had read about in my film magazines.
But then I decided to push my luck and go for broke.
I requested an interview with Francois Truffaut.
This was my downfall. The man who ran the press office made some calls. I was summoned to the office and told I had “a helluva nerve.” I was ordered to immediately leave Lincoln Center.
I was deeply shaken. I didn’t attend the NYFF for years. But being caught at my hoax was in some way a relief—I have no idea what I would have asked Truffaut had I met him.