Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 23, 2012.

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A suspense-filled documentary that investigates the alleged con artist and former film festival director Marie Castaldo.

***UPDATE****

As you can see, our Kickstarter campaign has been successful! We reached our goal, thanks to everyone’s amazing support – whether through generous donations, spreading the word, or some combination of the two. We are so thrilled and so grateful!

Though we have reached our goal, we want to keep the momentum going in this last 14 hours of the campaign!

If we are able to surpass our goal by $2500, we will be able to follow up with the numerous people who have contacted us as a result of this Kickstarter campaign, and who are willing to share their stories about experiences with Marie and her film festivals. 

If we are able to surpass our goal by $5,000, we will be able to more of the extensive international research that we will need to truly understand Marie’s history and the root of her more recent ventures.

If you haven’t donated, please consider doing so in these final hours. The sky’s the limit!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,

Martha & Dan

THE PROJECT

Since 2007, we have been chasing the enigmatic Marie Castaldo, convicted criminal, alleged con-artist, and proprietor of scandal-plagued film festivals. Directed by Martha Shane (Producer and co-director of Bi The Way) and Dan Nuxoll (Program Director of Rooftop Films, co-producer of Kiss My Snake), The Mystery of Marie Castaldo and the Queens International Film Festival will take the audience on a voyage of discovery from Africa to Paris to L.A. to Queens to Riker’s Island, and finally to the small apartment in London where we finally met Marie face to face. In the end, we hope to come to a better understanding of what truly drives Marie. But we can’t do all this without your help. Please, check out our video and pledge today.

THE STORY

My name is Dan Nuxoll, and I am the Program Director for Rooftop Films, an outdoor film festival in New York. It’s a great job and I really enjoy it, but right now I would like to tell you about a different sort of personal project that I am working on.

In 2007, a festival director named Marie Castaldo called me up at Rooftop Films. She was looking to rent some equipment for her Queens International Film Festival. We rented her some gear, but we never got a deposit, and after the festival was over, Marie disappeared without paying a dime.  A year later, when I discovered that Marie was presenting the festival again, I decided to take action. I called the festival, left a message, and was subsequently contacted by Marie, who threatened that if I showed up at the festival, there would be “men there who would make me regret it.” (For the record, Marie denies this.) As I soon learned, however, Rooftop Films wasn’t the only company that Marie hadn’t paid over the years.

 Around this time, I met a filmmaker named Martha Shane. Martha and I started to do a little research, and bit by bit, we began to uncover a trail of unpaid bills and allegations of fraud that covered Marie’s twenty-plus years of working in the New York and Los Angeles film industries. Finally, Rooftop Films, along with a number of other people who claimed they had been defrauded by the Queens International Film Festival, brought Marie’s actions to the attention of the Queens DA. But for many months, the case rested there, as Martha and I continued to learn of increasingly bizarre allegations against Marie.

 Finally, just as we were beginning to think that no action would ever be taken by the Queens DA’s office, there was a shocking turn of events. Marie was arrested on multiple counts of animal abuse in upstate New York. While she waited in jail there, the Queens DA was informed of her arrest, and Marie was transferred to Riker’s Island. It was nearing the end of 2010 when Marie plead guilty to multiple counts of fraud and animal abuse and was deported back to France.

Now, it’s 2012, and we’re raising money for a feature documentary that will tell this unbelievable story.

WHY WE NEED TO MAKE THIS FILM


Quite frankly, this is the strangest story that we have been involved with in our entire lives, and we have a deep desire to tell this story as well as it possibly can be told. Martha is a filmmaker who has interviewed polyandrous witches in the Ozarks and documented community healthcare in post-Katrina New Orleans. I have followed Thai snake boxers into the ring, dodged venomous king cobra attacks and helped to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the roofs of New York to watch independent films. But neither of us has ever encountered anything like the story of Marie Castaldo.

When we started investigating Marie, we quickly became enthralled by the wild scope of her life. She has been married multiple times on multiple continents, and she claims that two of her exes threatened to kill her. We’ve heard stories from past associates describing bizarre scams and shady deals that they claimed she or her ex-husbands had pulled--from run of the mill bounced checks, to small town Ponzi schemes, to an attempt to sell Q-Tips off the back of a stolen pharmaceutical truck. She has been sued countless times and accused of fraud under many different names, relating to four different film festivals in three different cities. There is an elderly egg farmer who claimed he gave Marie and her husband his life savings to make a gangster movie, and there is a single mom who says Marie took her last dime. And all that is just the beginning.

Everyone we spoke to said that Marie could be charming, sweet, vulnerable, and captivating. Yet everywhere we looked there were accusations of fraud, piles of unpaid bills, and people whose lives had been left in disarray. The deeper we dug, the more we wanted to know.

Who is this woman?

How has she gotten away with so much for so long?

Why are people drawn to her, and why did so many of her associates end up declaring bankruptcy, or going to jail, or both?

And why in the world did she keep starting new film festivals?

Marie was a fascinating enigma to us, and we dove headfirst into our research.  We tried to find out everything we could about Marie’s life, combing through old articles, interviewing many of the people who have worked with her in the past, speaking with ex-boyfriends and alleged victims, and compiling a tremendous amount of raw information and footage. But the most fascinating part of this investigation came a few months ago when we finally met Marie face to face and interviewed her in London.

The thing that still troubled us as we headed to Europe was that we couldn’t understand why Marie had gotten involved in all of these unusual situations. If she was simply a run-of-the-mill con-artist, then some of her actions, such as giving fee waivers to filmmakers who submitted to her festivals, just didn’t make sense. But at the same time, she had been accused of so many different schemes by so many different people, it also didn’t seem possible that she was completely innocent of blame as she so often claimed.

Our interviews in London cleared up some of our confusion, but our time with Marie created as many questions as it answered. After spending more than 25 hours with Marie in a blacked out apartment in London, poring over the details of her life and crimes, we realized just how difficult it can be to parse out the truth about someone’s life.  In many ways, we have more information, but will we ever know the truth? Would that even be possible?

WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

At this point, we have twenty-five hours of fantastic interview with Marie, but we still have numerous leads to follow up on and interviews remaining to shoot. In order to complete production of the film, we need to raise approximately $45,760.68, and our goal is to raise at least half of those funds with this Kickstarter campaign. This money will allow us to film interviews with the rest of the fascinating people whose lives have been affected by Marie, and it will allow us to begin the process of creating the re-enactments and animated segments that will help bring this story to life.  So, check out the prizes, spread the word, and please help us share this crazy story with the world. Thank you so much for your time and your support!

Follow us on Twitter: @mysteryofmarie

Find us on Facebook: The Mystery of Marie Jocelyne

Contact us: mysteryofmarie@gmail.com

PLEASE NOTE: In the interest of clarity, we just wanted to makes sure to communicate that though one of the co-directors is an employee of Rooftop Films, and though the story does definitely involve Rooftop Films, this project is not an official project of Rooftop Films, Inc. This is a private project produced independently of Rooftop Films, Inc., and any views and opinions expressed in this Kickstarter page and video are solely of the filmmakers and do not represent the views of Rooftop Films, Inc. 

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