Update on “The Vanishing City”; Documentary Screens Tonite, Saturday, September 25th at Williamsburg Film Festival

Tonight, Saturday, September 25th, catch the completed version of documentary “The Vanishing City” at the Williamsburg International Film Festival, aka WilliFest, at 10 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. The Festival began Thursday, September 23rd and ends tomorrow, Sunday September 26th.

You can’t miss the dramatic changes in our New York City neighborhoods that have transpired at an escalated pace during the Bloomberg years, particularly throughout Manhattan but creeping into the other boroughs. The film attempts to answer “why?

The Daily News featured an excellent write-up on the film’s creators, filmmakers Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa, yesterday:

“The more questions we asked, the film became more of journa-listic expose, a detective story,” says Senko.

“Essentially, we found that the city was using taxpayers’ money to more and more finance luxury housing, pushing out people and businesses that had been there for generations. These developers got huge subsidies and tax breaks, while taxes on small landlords and co-ops were going up nearly 40 percent.

“The result is changing the whole culture of Manhattan, and the film took on that focus.”

To view the excellent trailer for the film, and more on why the city is vanishing so quickly, take a look at this piece from Examiner.com:

The film points out that New York, while always changing, used to change in increments. In the 90s luxury development started ramping up and by the aughts exploded, slashing and burning its way through neighborhood after neighborhood. Luxury development has become the norm and entire neighborhoods have been re-zoned to not only allow it, but to preclude any other kind of development.

“The Vanishing City” just opened the Harlem International Film Festival on Thursday 9/23 and is receiving a lot of important and much deserved attention.

For tickets for tonight, or the rest of the festival, visit here.

“The Vanishing City” to screen Tuesday, Jan. 12th at Judson Memorial Church, 7 p.m.

“The Vanishing City,” a documentary by Fiore DeRosa and Jen Senko, will screen Tuesday, January 12th, 7 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South at Thompson Street.

The Vanishing City 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 with – and testimony by – tenants, city planners, business owners, scholars, and politicians, the film takes a 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. The film also links NYC trends to other global cities where multinational corporations continue to victimize the middle and working classes.

$5 suggestion donation.

Film Premiere: “SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” Sunday, June 1st in Manhattan

Deserted Washington Square Plaza - fountain & Arch“SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” is a one hour documentary which focuses on the redesign of Washington Square Park and what’s taken place over the last four years: how the Bloomberg Administration pushed through its agenda to get this famous park in ‘line’ – literally.

The film gets its premiere screening on Sunday, June 1st at the Bowery Poetry Club. In the meantime, you can get a preview of director Matt Davis’s work by watching this 5 minute video clip with up & coming performer, Farbeon, which places the Washington Square Park issue in the midst of an engaging music video. (And there’s some extraordinary footage of NYC Parks Department designer George Vellonakis in action.)

“SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” Screening / Film Premiere

It begins with the fountain, that famous theatre-in-the-round, home to political protest, art and musical freewheeling. The new design calls for this structure to “align” with the historic Arch (after over a century unaligned), more “picture perfect” for tourists traveling down Fifth Avenue, and reduction of the voluminous public space that surrounds it transformed into quaint areas with landscaped lawns.

The film shows the government’s bait-and-switch games with the outraged community, whose members watch the City attempt to transform the Washington Square Park that they know and love into one that is pretty and pacified and far from its artistic, bohemian roots.

If you’ve been wondering how it got to this – with much of Washington Square Park behind gates and bulldozed – “SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” will bring into sharp focus what’s happened thus far and what’s in store.

This is the premiere screening of this documentary. Directed by Matt Davis.

With Musical Guests: The Fools, A Brief View of The Hudson, Jeff Dickinson

This SUNDAY, JUNE 1st, 7 p.m.

BOWERY POETRY CLUB

308 Bowery between Houston & Bleecker

F train to 2nd Avenue; 6 train to Bleecker

Four Dollars

Film site: square-movie.com

Film Premiere Sunday June 1st: “SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” in Manhattan

“SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park” is a one hour documentary which focuses on thewashington sq arch and fountain in full swing redesign of Washington Square Park and what’s taken place over the last four years: how the Bloomberg Administration pushed through its agenda to get this famous park in ‘line’ – literally.

It begins with the fountain, that famous theatre-in-the-round, home to political protest, art and musical freewheeling. The new design calls for this structure to “align” with the historic Arch (after over a century unaligned), more “picture perfect” for tourists traveling down Fifth Avenue, and reduction of the voluminous public space that surrounds it transformed into quaint areas with landscaped lawns.

The footage shows the government’s bait-and-switch games with the outraged community, whose members watch the City attempt to transform the Washington Square Park that they know and love into one that is pretty and pacified and far from its artistic, bohemian roots.

If you’ve been wondering how it got to this – with much of Washington Square Park behind gates and bulldozed – SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park will bring into sharp focus what’s happened thus far and what’s in store.

This is the premiere screening of this documentary.

Directed by Matt Davis

With Musical Guests: The Fools, A Brief View of The Hudson, Jeff Dickinson

This SUNDAY, JUNE 1st, 7 p.m.

BOWERY POETRY CLUB

308 Bowery between Houston & Bleecker

F train to 2nd Avenue; 6 train to Bleecker

Four Dollars

More information: square-movie.com

Three More Trees Felled at Washington Sq Park This Morning; NYC Parks Department Budget Hearing Thursday; Upcoming Film Screening

Washington Sq Park trees chopped down 05-21-08

Mark Your Calendars: On Sunday, June 1st at 7 p.m., Matt Davis, who supplied this photo of the trees in the process of being destroyed and has shared much of his knowledge, will screen his documentary “SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park.” In it, he chronicles the City’s redesign plans over a four year period — how the dramatic “renovation” of Washington Square Park got pushed through, and past, an outraged community. The film, with musical guests, will be shown at the Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery at Bleecker. More details to follow.

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Three more stately old trees were felled at Washington Square Park this morning. When will it end?

The total number of trees at Washington Square Park which have met the fate of the men with the chain saws is now fourteen.

I highly doubt – despite what NYC Parks Commissioner Benepe would say – that these trees were “dying” or “dead.” They were likely in the way of the City’s redesign plan.

Beautiful mature 80 year old trees are chopped down one morning by a man with an ax directed by the misguided whimsy of a city government to redesign a highly functioning public space to better fit in with our CEO Mayor’s “vision” for our city. There’s something criminal and outrageous about that.

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The New York City Parks Department Budget Hearing is coming up before New York City Council tomorrow Thursday, May 22nd. If you can swing by, please come to City Hall and advocate for our Parks/public spaces. Perhaps if the Parks Department was better funded, we wouldn’t be seeing so many of their privatization games (for example, Washington Square Park Fountain sold off to the Tisch Family with naming rights for $2.5 million).

Important data: City Parks take up 14% of City land and yet the Parks Department receives less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the City budget. Parks workers have been cut by 66% over the last twenty years.

Come to City Hall Council Chambers — 1:30-3 p.m. Parks Department Presentation (a chance to see Commissioner Benepe in action); 3 p.m. Public Comment.


Talk about the Park – Film Makers @ Washington Sq Pk This Weekend



I got a notice from some film makers from Ithaca, NY who are working on a documentary about street performers in NYC, focusing on Washington Square Park and incorporating issues around the “renovation.”

They would like to interview Park users this weekend, Saturday, March 29th and Sunday, March 30th.

Here is a description of their project:

Small Scale Productions, from Ithaca College, is in production on a 15-minute documentary pilot that will look into the lives of buskers/street performers in New York City, and the issues they face everyday (with the Park being the most recent obstacle). We hope to bring attention to the Park and to these individuals who are so vital to the culture of New York City. We are looking to interview those who are well aware with what has been going on with the reconstruction of the park. We are also looking to talk with buskers as well as community members who have been affected by the park’s remodeling. If interested, please call (315)481-1146 or write : info -at- smallscaleproductions.com

And they provided me this with this great definition of a “busker:”

A busker is someone who performs live on the streets or in parks/public places with objectives of entertaining people while at the same time trying to solicit donations. These people are also known as street performers. Busking is an English term that was coined in reference to the chimney sweeps who would perform on the streets after cleaning chimneys and pass out their large top-hats to try and collect tips.

Love that! Please contact them.