Robbie Leppzer; Filmaker
TALES FROM CHAIR CITY is directed by Robbie Leppzer, an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker and radio producer. He has directed over thirty documentaries over the past forty years.
Leppzer’s critically acclaimed feature-length and short documentaries, as well as commissioned television news magazine segments, about contemporary social issues have been broadcast by CNN International, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, HBO/Cinemax, PBS, CNN, Sundance Channel, HDNet, Link TV, Free Speech TV, National Public Radio, and Pacifica Radio.
Since 1985, Leppzer has been director of Turning Tide Productions, an independent documentary video production company located in Wendell, Massachusetts
The Film TALES FROM CHAIR CITY is a half-hour documentary film about the furniture making heritage of Gardner, Massachusetts, featuring an oral history portrait of Lenny Curcio, the last handcrafted chair maker in Chair City.
TALES FROM CHAIR CITY is produced under the non-profit fiscal sponsorship of the Kenneth Mason Waugh Non-profit Inc. Paul Gingras, Executive Producer. Robbie Leppzer, Director, Videographer and Editor. Jonathan Dudley, Producer/Interviewer.
Help us raise $20,000 to complete production and editing on this film with your tax-deductible contribution!
At 89 years old, Lenny Curcio continues to work at his Chair City Wayside Furniture shop, hand weaving the traditional fiber rush-style seat.
Known as Chair City, furniture making has been a critical part of Gardner’s proud heritage.
Lenny Curcio is one of the many people who worked in the industry that gives Gardner its identity.
In 1910, over a dozen furniture factories in Gardner produced 4 million wooden chairs. Gardner was known throughout the world for it’s fine crafted chairs.
Today, there are only three enterprises making wooden furniture left – and Lenny Curcio’s Chair City Wayside Furniture is one of them.
“My father brought me into the business when I was 16,” recounts Lenny. “The first thing he taught me to do was to do the fiber seating on the chairs, which is what I still do.”
“We were taught as youngsters to do it well, or not do it at all. Those of us still doing it can give you a chair that you would be proud of. In the New England, old-Yankee style, you can’t get better furniture from anybody else!”
In TALES FROM CHAIR CITY, we’ll hear why Lenny Curcio and his work are an important part of Gardner’s history. We’ll hear from local historians and artists who are attempting to keep the legacy of furniture making alive.
We’ll also feature the head of the local historical society who – in his spare time – apprentices with Lenny and dreams of starting a maker space where the skills of workers in Gardner could be honored and young people could learn the proud craft heritage of this blue-collar town.
We’ll show the young artists behind the Gardner Makes project, which each year uses a pavement roller to print large format woodcuts celebrating manufacturers and makers in Chair City.
We’ll hear from Lenny about what the work means to him and how his daughter has started a chair repair business of her own.
TALES FROM CHAIR CITY will include interviews with Chris Pera, local historian; Tracie Pouliot, director of the Chair City Community Workshop; A.J. Peterson, the last vice-president at Nichols & Stone furniture factory; Heidi Hosmer, community artist; Pam Meitzler of the Gardner Public Library, and Karen Curcio, daughter of Lenny Curcio and a third-generation seat weaver.
TALES FROM CHAIR CITY is produced under the non-profit fiscal sponsorship of the Kenneth Mason Waugh Non-profit Inc. Paul Gingras is executive producer. Jonathan Dudley is producer/interviewer.