Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"My Brooklyn": Documentary On The Battle For The Soul Of Our City Premieres At Brooklyn Film Festival

My Brooklyn”, a feature -length independent documentary by filmmakers Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean is a must see for every Brooklynite. After six years in the making, it will be premiering at the Brooklyn Film Festival on Saturday, June 2 at 7:30pm and on Sunday, June 10 at 8:00pm.

The film examines the impact of re-zoning, re-vitalization and the ensuing displacement of long-time residents and raises the hard question of whose Brooklyn this really is.

From the press release:
In “My Brooklyn”, filmmakers Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean chronicle 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. The film also investigates the historical roots of this contemporary urban makeover, reaching as far back as far as the Great Depression, and expanding beyond Downtown to examine the origins of change in neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy.
A personal as well as political journey, “My Brooklyn” also follows director Kelly Anderson's quest, as a Brooklyn "gentrifier," to understand the transformation of her neighborhood along lines of race and class. Anderson invites the audience on her hunt for answers as she witnesses the rapid rise of luxury condos and shiny new retail, meeting up with everyone from Downtown Brooklyn Partnership president Joe Chan, to M.I.T. history professor and Bed-Stuy native Craig Wilder. Throughout Anderson's journey, the powerful images of photographer Jamel Shabazz, shot during the 1970s, and 80s, celebrate the everyday life and culture of working-class black and Latino Brooklyn, and help tell a provocative story about the battle for the soul of a city.
Since 2001, the Bloomberg Administration has rezoned over a hundred neighborhoods in New York City, from Downtown Brooklyn to Harlem. Confronted with a broken public process, ordinary residents have largely been shut out of the decision-making. “My Brooklyn” reveals the dramatic impacts of arcane policy tools such as zoning, showing their effects on the ground, and letting the audience evaluate. The film also takes a unique look at seemingly benign "public-private partnerships," and their role in shielding development plans from genuine public scrutiny and input.
 “My Brooklyn” does not disparage new development, but asks how the planning process can be more inclusive and produce more equitable outcomes, especially in light of Brooklyn's past. "The gentrification debate often gets stuck on the role of individuals," says Producer Allison Dean, "but what's often missing is a larger understanding of the collusion of government and private interests that is the real story not just in New York, but in many cities globally as well. There is this belief that cities now have to have very rich people in order to be viable, to be successful. What's exciting is that there is an increasingly strong movement challenging this idea, and building power for people often excluded."
"Many new residents are bothered by gentrification," says Anderson, "and have this uneasy feeling that they are part of the problem, but aren't sure what to do about it. ‘My Brooklyn’ invites these folks to consider the bigger picture, refuse to be pawns in this larger system, and take an active role in promoting development that starts with the premise that everyone has a right to the city, to decent and affordable housing, and to good jobs." In the end, “My Brooklyn” offers hope for preserving the still-rich diversity of Brooklyn and beyond, and celebrates the local community activists and advocates that have stood up to powerful interests and shown us achievable alternatives.
To read more about the film, click here.
For all screening times and Brooklyn Film Festival information, click here.

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