Film festival fraud; documentarians investigate the mystery of Marie Castaldo
Marie “Jocelyne” Castellano, best known to local residents for her role in the scandal-plagued Narrowsburg International Independent Film Festival and wife of Richard Castellano, is the subject of a documentary film presently in production. The film will tell the story not only of her time here, but also how she founded the Queens International Film Festival, which one New York newspaper called “The Flim-flam Film Festival.”
Jocelyne is a woman of many names—she’s gone by Jocelyne Castellano, Jocelyne Castaldo-Castellano, Maria Jocelyne Castellano, Marie-Helene Rousseau and Marie Rousseau. She now goes by Marie Castaldo, and she is the convicted criminal, alleged con artist and subject of “The Mystery of Marie Jocelyne.”
The filmmakers of the documentary, Dan Nuxoll and Martha Shane, came to Narrowsburg recently to look through The River Reporter archives and to talk to residents about Marie Castaldo. Nuxoll, the program director of Rooftop Films, came into contact with Marie when she rented equipment from Rooftop for the Queens International Film Festival and never paid her deposit. It was then that Nuxoll and Shane discovered a slew of corruption in Marie’s past—bounced checks, Ponzi schemes and selling Q-Tips off the back of a stolen pharmaceutical truck.
In 2010 Marie was arrested for charges of dog hoarding in Kingston, where police said 40 dogs were found in an empty storefront with no water or food. She pled guilty to multiple counts of fraud and animal abuse and was deported back to her native France.
Nuxoll and Shane are both involved in film. Nuxoll has worked for Rooftop Films since 2002 and has served on the juries for film festivals SXSW and Slamdance. Shane has worked as producer, director, cinematographer and editor on many documentaries.
They have been working on this documentary for a few years. Shane said, “The thing that made it into a real project and a serious feature film is that we were able to interview Marie herself last October in London.” They were in London for five days and shot 30 hours of footage with her.
They have traveled to many locations, speaking to people who knew Marie. “We always knew it would be a complicated story,” Nuxoll said, “but as we spoke to more and more people it just gets more and more complicated.”
Many of the people they spoke to comment on Marie’s charm and charisma. The filmmakers think that Marie chose to do film festivals because there is glamour involved in them. The world of film is one where you get praise and attention. However, in terms of her involvement with the festivals, the filmmakers say Marie believes she is not guilty of any crimes or any serious wrongdoings. Nuxoll said, “From her perspective she made some bad decisions and, as she puts it, she trusted the wrong people. With a lot of this stuff that happened in Narrowsburg she says it was Richie’s fault, that he was doing unethical things that she wasn’t aware of.”
Nuxoll and Shane plan to return to Narrowsburg to shoot more footage, and invite anyone who has a story about Marie or Richie that they want to share to email them at email@example.com.
They plan to film for another year and then spend a year after that editing. Shane notes that documentaries take a long time to create, and this one is particularly heavy on the research and tracking people down. They are still raising money for the film and are sponsored by Women Make Movies. You can donate to the film on their website.
Nuxoll jokes, “The people of Narrowsburg might be a little reluctant to invest in any film associated with the Castellanos, but we can guarantee we are trustworthy.”