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LI filmmaker's documentary celebrates visionary inventor Nikola Tesla

Through digital technology, Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower

 Through digital technology, Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower rises again in "Tower to the People." Credit: Joseph Sikorski

Nikola Tesla, the renowned inventor who built one of his most famous laboratories on Long Island, will be celebrated with a screening of a documentary about his life and work by Babylon filmmaker Joseph Sikorski.

"Tower to the People" will screen Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre and will be followed by a Q&A with Sikorski and Marc Alessi, executive director of East Shoreham's Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. The screening marks the 77th anniversary of Tesla's death.

The film argues that Tesla -- who was of Serbian heritage and emigrated to America from what is now Croatia in the late 1800s -- was not only a pioneer in the field of electricity but a visionary who imagined something resembling today's internet. At Wardenclyffe, Tesla built a 187-foot tower designed for wireless transmission of information and even proposed sending energy itself through the ground. His funding from the banker J.P. Morgan ran out, however, and the Wardenclyffe project closed in 1905.

"It's really an important part of world history, and it happened here locally," says Sikorski, 52, who was raised in Lindenhurst and began researching his film 20 years ago. "Wardenclyffe is the last Tesla laboratory left on the planet. So it's sacred ground for some people."

Tesla, an eccentric character known for his dandyish wardrobe and photographic memory, died penniless in 1943 but remains a figure of public fascination, regularly popping up in stage plays, pop songs and movies. He was recently played by Nicholas Hoult in last year's drama "The Current War"; David Bowie also played Tesla in Christopher Nolan's thriller "The Prestige" in 2006.

For information on "Tower to the People" and to purchase tickets, go to cinemaartscentre.org.

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