An Open-Air Film Festival Puts the Lens on Housing Insecurity



As New Yorkers buckle beneath the strain of the town’s unraveling housing market, the Decrease East Aspect’s Museum of Reclaimed City Area (MoRUS) calls on us to contemplate moments in current historical past when individuals took issues into their very own palms. Beginning on Thursday night, September 14, MoRUS’s 11th annual film festival will display screen 9 movies documenting community-led actions to reclaim and preserve city areas throughout New York Metropolis and past.

Having opened in 2012 at 155 Avenue C (higher generally known as “C-Squat“) in Alphabet Metropolis, the volunteer-run museum works to archive and publicize the Decrease East Aspect’s (LES) historical past of radical group activism born from the town’s fiscal disaster through the Nineteen Seventies. As components of the town turned overrun with derelict buildings and vacant heaps after years of financial despair and absent landlords, annoyed residents started reclaiming and re-fashioning the deserted areas via an unofficial city homesteading effort to fight homelessness and substandard residing situations.

Movie nonetheless from “Nubia Method” (2022), a documentary centered on the primary self-built Black housing co-operative in Lewisham, London, that was constructed within the Nineties (picture courtesy Timi Akindele-Ajani)

The museum’s movie screenings will happen within the surrounding group gardens that had been developed and maintained by native residents, who volunteered their time and assets to transform deserted heaps into stunning inexperienced areas with quite a lot of makes use of. MoRUS Co-founder and Director Invoice Di Paola emphasised to Hyperallergic that the gardens “needed to combat to save lots of themselves, and the town was attempting to destroy them through the use of a housing situation,” citing the community’s response to the Giuliani Administration’s intent on auctioning the city-owned however resident-stewarded backyard heaps to builders to construct extra housing through the late ’90s as the town’s economic system recovered.

Embodying the unconventional activism that led to the creation and safety of the gardens and squats, the 9 movies within the competition lineup doc the group advocacy for saving these collectively cared-for areas. Venezuelan filmmaker Sebastian Gutierrez’s “Grasp of None” (2009) facilities Colombian immigrant Mario Bustamante, who labored numerous jobs within the metropolis and resided in squat homes that he and fellow residents made livable with their mixed skillsets through the ’90s. Equally, Elana Meyers and Katie Heiserman will share their work in progress on their archival footage documentary “Survival With out Hire” (2023), additionally following LES squatters who shaped a collective of artists and activists.

The collective combat to guard group gardens was additionally captured via “Battle to Save La Plaza” (1988), a documentary chronicling an anti-gentrification marketing campaign to guard the La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez group backyard in LES from growth. Different movies embrace the 1993 documentary “Battle of Tuntenhaus,” following a queer anti-fascist squat in East Berlin; “Nubia Method” (2o22), which examines London’s first self-built Black housing co-op within the ’90s; and The Spark (2021), about activists’ plan to thwart the development of a brand new airport in Nantes, France.

MoRUS can also be premiering its personal documentary “Sleep on the Water” (2023), following boat squatting throughout NYC.

Alongside the movie competition screenings, MoRUS has partnered with the Anarchist Book Fair and Emma Goldman Film Festival, which is able to host programming at La Plaza Cultural through the day and a night screening at Tompkins Sq. Park on Saturday, September 16. Di Paola additionally talked about that the MoRUS’s personal Saturday program shall be peppered with workshops and informational classes on methods to take over a constructing.

“As a historical past museum, we’re attempting to make use of historical past to point out that that is the way it was achieved,” he continued. “You may take over the gardens as effectively — you possibly can develop your individual meals. The museum exists in a squat that individuals mounted up.”

MoRUS’s movie competition can have nightly screenings from Thursday, September 14 to Sunday, September 17 within the surrounding group gardens. Di Paola underscored that nobody shall be turned away, and that donations are welcome.


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