“The Stairway to Stardom Mixtape”

This film was screened at Fantastic Fest

“The Stairway to Stardom Mixtape” is a found footage documentary that’s exactly as the title implies. It’s a film crafted from a compilation of clips from a public access television show that, let’s be real here, anyone with editing software and a lot of time on their hands could’ve put together into a feature length film project. It’s a little interesting at first, but the film is best in small doses as it does grow tedious, quickly.

From 1979 until the early 1990s, lounge singer Frank Masi and his wife Tillie hosted a television show in New York City called “The Stairway to Stardom.” Featuring a local array of “talent,” the show was filmed on video in a Staten Island basement. From comedians and singers, dancers and bands, the variety of performers that passed through would have been enviable, if they were any good.

If you are the type of person who watched “American Idol” just to see contestants like the infamous “She Bangs” William Hung, then you will probably like watching this series of terrible performance from singers, dancers, magicians, and comedians who have little or no talent. Some of the acts are enjoyable and entertaining, but most fit into the “Gong Show” category. This film will try your patience.

There’s not a lot of artistry on display and there isn’t a lot of skill needed to make a film like this. With a director credit attributed to AGFA, the filmmakers combed through hours of archival video tapes and assembled them together to make a cultural time capsule by editing together found footage. For this reason, “The Stairway to Stardom Mixtape” isn’t an insightful documentary, but it captures a period in American pop culture that feels frozen in time.

By: Louisa Moore

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