Gentrification, eminent domain, public subsidies for luxury developments, political corruption, rising rents and neighborhood revitalization are underlying themes in most Brooklynites’ day-to-day lives. With that in mind, a new screening series, BROOKLYN RECONSTRUCTED, by Filmwax’s Adam Schartoff, taps into the borough’s zeitgeist, its wealth of local filmmakers and their recent output of documentaries that address these issues. Each film in the series, to be screened at The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture at 53 Prospect Park West, will deal with the themes of gentrification & development in Brooklyn. Within those themes is a conversation about race & class in a city undergoing a startling transformation. In order to cultivate a rich conversation about the above issues, a discussion led by a panel of regional activists, scholars, civic leaders and the filmmakers will accompany every screening.
The first film in the series is MY BROOKLYN directed by Kelly Anderson and produced by Allison Lirish Dean. It screens on Wednesday, July 25th, 7PM. The evening includes a post-film discussion with members of event co-sponsor organization FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality), Urban Studies Professor and community planning expert Tom Angotti, journalist Alyssa Katz, Urban History Professor Karen Miller and Kelly Anderson.
A recent Audience Award winner at the Brooklyn Film Festival, MY BROOKLYN chronicles how, over the last decade, city government and corporate interests joined forces to remake Downtown Brooklyn, displacing small businesses and long-time residents. The film focuses on the policies and politics reshaping the Fulton Mall, one of the most successful and most maligned shopping destinations in New York City. It also investigates the historical roots of this contemporary urban makeover, reaching as far back as the Great Depression, and expanding beyond Downtown to examine the origins of change in neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy.
THE DOMINO EFFECT (2012) [Aug. 29] by Brian Paul, Daniel Phelps and Megan Sperry, is a feature length documentary film that explores the process of real estate development in New York City and digs deep to uncover the complex networks of banks, developers, politicians, and non-profit organizations that shape our cities. During the last decade, the communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in North Brooklyn have experienced the negative impacts of excessive luxury development and gentrification more than any other neighborhoods in New York. Told through the voices of longtime residents, the film conveys the personal impact of gentrification while also shedding light on issues encountered by residents of cities all across the country.
THE VANISHING CITY (2010) [Oct. 24], by DeRosa and Senko, exposes the real politic behind the alarming disappearance of New York’s beloved neighborhoods, the truth about its finance-dominated economy, and the myth of “inevitable change.” Artfully documented through interviews, hearings, demonstrations, and archival footage, the film takes a sober look at the city’s “luxury” policies and high-end development, the power role of the elite, and accusations of corruption surrounding land use and rezoning.
BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN (2012) [Sept. 26], by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, follows the story of reluctant activist Daniel Goldstein as he struggles to save his home and community from being demolished to make way for a professional basketball arena and the densest real estate development in U.S. history. Along the way, he falls in love, gets married and starts a family while living in a vacated building located at the heart of the project site. Over the course of seven years, Daniel spearheads the movement against the development plan as he and the community fight tenaciously in the courts, the streets, and the media to stop the abuse of eminent domain and reveal the corruption at the heart of the plan.
MADE IN BROOKLYN (1993) [Nov. 18] by Isabel Hill features the compelling stories of factories that flourish in Brooklyn, NY, challenging the notion that manufacturing is dead in America. Workers reveal how their jobs bring not only regular paychecks, but meaningful relationships, enhanced self-esteem, and pride in themselves and their products. MADE IN BROOKLYN has lessons about the economy for the entire nation.
GUT RENOVATION (2012) [date TBA] by Su Friedrich tells the inside story of the rezoning, demolition and repurposing of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Friedrich details the heart-rending loss of a thriving community of working class residents and artists, as well as the loss of many beautiful old industrial buildings that accommodated hundreds of small businesses, manufacturers, and artists’ studios, including the eccentric communal loft which was her home for twenty years. Along the way, the film slyly skewers the city planners, ad men, developers, architects and the new tenants they attract with their offers of tax-free luxury living “with a bohemian twist.”
Further dates and titles will be announced in the near future.