Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday Night in Williamsburg: Moviehouse presents UnionDoc's "Living Los Sures," a Preview Screening, at Sternberg Park

Tonight we took the B60, which stops practically in front of our door, across South 5th and Montrose, to Lorimer Street and lively Sternberg Park, where Moviehouse was presenting, along with UnionDocs, a free preview on the usual handball court screens, of the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio 2012's Living Los Sures, short documentaries exploring life on the Southside.
From the UnionDocs website:
In the late seventies and early eighties, South Williamsburg was one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. It was troubled by drugs and violence, full of abandoned real estate, and badly under-served. Los Sures, a documentary from 1984 by Diego Echeverria, skillfully represents the challenges of this time, while also celebrating a community that was connected, coherent and full of culture.
UnionDocs is in the midst of a project that revisits this film and creates a constellation of companion documentary works that will update, annotate, and spiral off from the original. The result will be Living Los Sures, an interactive, multi-layer documentary that seeks not just to extract important and unusual stories from the place, but to also create new shared histories and relationships between neighbors.
The event was broadcast live over BBOX Radio, the online "voice of Brooklyn," so people could listen, but not see, at home.
Speedy did a great job as the host, interviewing people from the community like Augie Ayala of ABC Beverages, who's been here for decades, and the makers of some of tonight's films like Oresti Tsonopoulos, Alexandre Gaspar Maia, Claire Richard, and Elizabeth Lawrence & Sonia Gonzalez.
However, this Cinema in the Parque had more people than any of the ones we've happily been to over the past few years. Both sides of the handball court wall had to be used as screens for a very large and enthusiastic crowd.
Lots of people lined up for popcorn. Our sainted brother and his wonderful girlfriend are managers of the theater in Mesa that has the best popcorn in Arizona, we can appreciate how much popcorn adds to the moviehouse experience.
We very much enjoyed all the films and learned about the community.
The first one, which we seemed to get audio only of, was Keep it Movin’ by Kaitlin Prest, and it reminded us of someone who grew up in Williamsburg as we knew it many years before anyone would ever consider it a fashionable destination. There was no "très Brooklyn" back in the day.
Here's the UnionDocs description of Prest's documentary:
“The curiosity about love is what set me on this journey…man that shit is no joke.”
Maria DeJesus—AKA TS (Tough Shit) and her mother Marta Iris Aviles unearth the stories of their first romances and reveal the lasting impact they had. These are stories about being swept off of your feet, about being a beautiful young girl coming into her own in a rough neighborhood thinking she’s got it all figured out.
Then came La Marqueta 1, directed by Elizabeth Lawrence, produced by Elizabeth Lawrence & Sonia Gonzalez:
A Parisian TV host now living in Brooklyn, Sonia visits one of the oldest markets in Williamsburg called LA MARQUETA. Home to 20+ latino vendors, La Marqueta sells food, haircuts, music and gifts. Every episode, Sonia visits a different vendor and learns about their craft. One day she works in a Dominican restaurant and another she’s learning to cut hair in a Barbershop. The short films of LA MARQUETA are a show and tell of culture and craft. They instruct and highlight a marketplace built for the community and run by the community.
In this episode, "Cooking for Manuel," Sonia tries to learn how to cook authentic Puerto Rican food, instructed by La Marqueta's elderly vendor Manuel. She manages to do passably well, perhaps excellently for a French person. It's funny, warm, and a good look at this very important part of the community, beloved by everyone from our next-door neighbors to Rosie Perez.
Clare Richard's Whose Schools? is a horror flick-type documentary about a Darth Vaderesque evil supervillain named Eva Moskowitz, who was once a decent New York City councilwoman but was transformed into a monstrous, greedy-for-power charter-school empress, the scourge of communities like Williamsburg's Southside, fought by Jedi-type idealistic warriors like our Obi-Wan Kenobi, the great Luis Garden Acosta of La Puente.
If you see evil Eva Moskowitz lurking outside a Williamsburg elementary school, get out your light saber and attempt to neutralize her and send her back to Upper Manhattan's Phantom Zone!
Turning from the horror of Eva Moskowitz to the deliciousness of Brooklyn Cupcake's coquito, tiramisu and morir soñando cupcakes, Oresti Tsonopoulos' delightful film Brooklyn Cupcake, about the temptations people like us face when we walk past this pastry palace on Union Avenue, was shown next. As UnionDocs says:
The flavors of nostalgia, community and family come together for the Rodriguez family to successfully run Brooklyn Cupcake, a vibrant cupcake shop in the Los Sures neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Maybe we could turn certain charter-school evil empresses away from the dark side if they saw the wonderful little documentary Little Tricksters. Alexandre Gaspar Maia's film
is a close look into the 6-week long rehearsal process of the young performers, ages 6-13, in preparation for a theater and dance performance piece. The show is organized by the El Puente Arts program in South Williamsburg, addressing the issues the Latino community faces with the impending takeover of their local junior high school by the Success charter network.
But we think Eva Moskowitz would just as soon kill these talented little kids as watch them perform. However, little tricksters, working stealthily and with teamwork, could probably take care of even a super-villain once and for all. Now that would be a documentary we'd give our life savings on Kickstarter for!
Back in the day, in a world before high-rise condos or charter schools or even hipsters, some people grew up in Williamsburg and loved their lives here but moved away and got old. (Some of these people include our BFF and other longtime friends.) Olivia Koski's Reunion tells "the story of a community of 'WillyB' (Williamsburg) natives who grew up in Los Sures in the 50′s and 60′s – when candy was 5 cents, when the BQE was incomplete, and before anyone had heard the word 'gentrification.' After finding each other on Facebook, they return to their hometown to reminisce about a time long gone and a place that exists only in their memories." And many of ours.
What a great event. Thanks to Moviehouse, UnionDocs, the filmmakers, their subjects and everyone who made this such a wonderful experience. We look forward to seeing more films that document life in Los Sures -- and maybe even the Northside, East Willamsburg, and South Williamsburg, too. Catching the B60 bus back to Marcy Avenue, we were very grateful we got to be in Sternberg Park tonight.

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