Filmmaker Bobby Roth had such a memorable experience attending UC Berkeley in the 1960s, he decided to make a movie about it. His feature, Berkeley, premieres this month at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
“I was trying to re-create the feeling of what it was like to be 19 in 1969,” says Roth, a longtime television director whose credits include Miami Vice and the current CBS series Numbers. “There’s a scene in the movie [based on a time when] I walked home from a Slavic literature class with a girl. She invited me into her apartment, and then just began to get undressed, which might not happen today.”
Roth’s son, Nick, a student at Cal, plays the young Bobby (named Ben in the film). And the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler, plays Ben’s father. “Henry is a wonderful guy,” says Roth. “But everywhere we went, people were yelling, ‘Hey, Fonzie!’ at him.”
The Berkeley home of rock star Country Joe McDonald has a cameo, but aside from four days of shooting in the East Bay, the movie was shot in Los Angeles. “Ironically,” says Roth, “in the movie, Joe’s house is supposed to be in L.A.”
“I’m very excited to show [the film] to an audience,” says Roth. “So far, only friends have seen it. Bruce Springsteen saw the movie, and Tom Hayden saw it. I thought they would be much tougher critics, but the response has been very good thus far.”
Berkeley premieres on October 8. For information, go to www.mvff.com .