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White Plains Director Lands 2nd YoFi Film Festival Invite With 'Wacky Man'

Anthony Desiato of White Plains with Wally Wackiman (in purple) and Zach Woliner, Wally's creator (behind at left). Desiato's documentary about the puppeteer debuts Oct. 22 during its first public screening at Yonkers Film Festival.
Anthony Desiato of White Plains with Wally Wackiman (in purple) and Zach Woliner, Wally's creator (behind at left). Desiato's documentary about the puppeteer debuts Oct. 22 during its first public screening at Yonkers Film Festival. Photo Credit: Provided
The trailer for "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," which gets its first public screening at Yonkers Film Festival at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22. Available on Vimeo on Nov. 15. The documentary's director, Anthony Desiato, lives and works in White Plains.
The trailer for "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," which gets its first public screening at Yonkers Film Festival at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22. Available on Vimeo on Nov. 15. The documentary's director, Anthony Desiato, lives and works in White Plains. Video Credit: Provided/Anthony Desiato
A still from "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer." Zach Woliner with his puppet, Wally Wackiman, are subjects of a new documentary produced by Anthony Desiato of White Plains.
A still from "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer." Zach Woliner with his puppet, Wally Wackiman, are subjects of a new documentary produced by Anthony Desiato of White Plains. Photo Credit: Provided
Promotional poster for the 2016 documentary "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," airing Oct. 22 at the Yonkers Film Festival and available from Vimeo on Demand on Nov. 15.
Promotional poster for the 2016 documentary "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," airing Oct. 22 at the Yonkers Film Festival and available from Vimeo on Demand on Nov. 15. Photo Credit: Provided
Zach Woliner, puppeteer, with Wally in the new documentary "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer."
Zach Woliner, puppeteer, with Wally in the new documentary "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer." Photo Credit: Provided
A behind-the-scenes production photo from "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," directed and produced by Anthony Desiato of White Plains.
A behind-the-scenes production photo from "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer," directed and produced by Anthony Desiato of White Plains. Photo Credit: Provided
Anthony Desiato of White Plains, left, with Jay Meisel of Hartsdale at a private screening of their documentary before the 2014 Yonkers Film Festival. Desiato is invited back to YoFi on Oct. 22 for the debut of "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer."
Anthony Desiato of White Plains, left, with Jay Meisel of Hartsdale at a private screening of their documentary before the 2014 Yonkers Film Festival. Desiato is invited back to YoFi on Oct. 22 for the debut of "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer." Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- What comes to mind when someone mentions the color purple? A Pulitzer Prize -winning novel? The Artist Formerly Known as Prince? Or Barney?

In Anthony Desiato's case, purple equals "Wacky Man: The Rise of a Puppeteer" and the White Plains film director's second invitation to screen a documentary at the Yonkers Film Festival -- best known as YoFi -- at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.

"Wacky Man" is Desiato's third documentary. This year, there were more than 1,000 submissions to air at YoFi -- narrowed down to about 100 films invited. "I'm really honored I made the cut,'' Desiato said.

His newest documentary chronicles a young Bronx man's struggle to break into the puppetry industry. The first word Zach Woliner ever spoke was "Ernie" -- the orange half of the famous Sesame Street duo Bert and Ernie. Over the next three decades, Woliner's childhood affinity for the Muppets became a lifelong passion, hobby, and, if Woliner attains his dream -- a career.

In 2008, Woliner created his own purple puppet named Wally Wackiman, a Jewish, self-aware character who advocates puppet freedom and equality with humans. "He knows someone is controlling him," Desiato explained. (Wally even thinks the hour-long documentary should have been named after him!)

By day, Desiato, 29, works at Pace University Law School's admissions office in White Plains. His website, www.flatsquirrelproductions.com includes Desiato's biography as well as a link to his first film, "My Comic Shop DocumentARy."

Daily Voice wrote about Desiato's second documentary, "By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story" in 2014. That film profiled a comic book vendor's final days at the Empire State Flea Market in Port Chester before it closed for good in 2013.

The full lineup of YoFi films can be found by clicking here. A link to "Wacky Man's" trailer can be found here. On Nov. 15, the film will be available through Vimeo. It is currently up for pre-order by clicking here.

The subject of Desiato's first documentary, a Scarsdale comic book shop called Alternate Realities, closed last year. Desiato launched a podcast chronicling the store's final days. It is called "My Comic Shop History" and is available by clicking here. Desiato produced the inaugural "comic shop" film while studying law and working at Alternate Realities.

Tickets for "Wacky Man, The Rise of a Puppeteer" are available at the Yonkers Festival box office, 66 Main St., as well as online.

"Zach will be there on the 22nd, and he may just have a purple friend with him," Desiato said on Thursday. " I do have a new documentary project in mind, though not ready to announce yet."

Footnote: Next Saturday's screening of "Wacky Man" won't be the most important life event for Desiato this month: He and his new bride, Stephanie, were married last Saturday in Ringwood, N.J.

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