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The Nostalgia Museum, a short film on San Francisco's Musée Mécanique

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Nostalgia Museum is a short film made by Sofie Kodner & Eleonora Bianchi.

San Francisco’s Musée Mécanique sat empty and under threat of permanent closure for 15 months during the pandemic. The short film, Nostalgia Museum, is the story of how the beloved arcade survived in the face of economic loss and mechanical deterioration.

About the Film - Nostalgia Museum

Antique arcade Musée Mécanique has provided entertainment to San Franciscans and tourists alike for nearly a century. But the pandemic almost marked its end. “Nostalgia Museum” provides an intimate portrayal of owner Dan Zelinsky as he struggles to keep the legacy of this iconic San Francisco institution, and of his father, alive in the face of economic loss and mechanical deterioration.

“It’s one of the few things in the city that is exactly the way it used to be. These machines are these machines.”

Directors Statement:

Many establishments with long, rich histories did not make it to the other side of the pandemic. In a year defined by loss, we wondered how communities felt about losing pieces of their cultural heritage. Musée Mécanique is full of meaning for many throughout San Francisco. It is an eccentric home that delights across generations. For the 15 months that the arcade was closed to the public, patrons near and far donated to support the maintenance of the Musée in hopes that it would one day reopen. We were lucky that Dan Zelinsky welcomed us behind the museum’s shuttered doors and gave us a view into the history of his family, his city, and of the relentless labor required to keep century-old machines in working condition. All Dan has ever wanted is to share his collection with any person who happens to wander in. His love of fun and knowledge of mechanical restoration is unmatched. Together through the film, we explored themes of time, memory, community, family, and what it takes to preserve whimsy in a serious, commercial world.

Director Bios:

Sofie Kodner is a journalist and documentarian based in San Francisco, California. She often reports at the nexus of history, design, and culture. Her work has appeared in CalMatters, KALW, Protocol, and the Jackson Hole News and Guide. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Sofie grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.

Eleonora Bianchi is a Swiss-Italian journalist based in Berkeley, California. Before moving to the United States, she earned a degree in Human Rights and worked for Swiss Radio and Television. Eleonora is currently a master’s student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she focuses on investigative reporting and narrative writing. She is an avid traveler who enjoys learning about different cultures through story.

Credit List of Cast & Crew:

A film by Sofie Kodner & Eleonora Bianchi
Creative Advisors: Andrés Cediel & Samantha Grant
Special Thanks: Dan Zelinsky, Nicole Meldahl, Ken Eaton, Judith Taylor Dixon, Noah Haydon, Peter Mintun, James Matison, Derek Lipkin
Archival: Dan Zelinksy, Western Neighborhoods Project, Geoff Svendsgaard
Technical Assistance: Chris O’Dea
Produced at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

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