The Film

 

My Brooklyn is a documentary about Director Kelly Anderson’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn “gentrifier,” to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood along lines of race and class. The story begins when Anderson moves to Brooklyn in 1988, lured by cheap rents and bohemian culture. By Michael Bloomberg’s election as mayor in 2001, a massive speculative real estate boom is rapidly altering the neighborhoods she has come to call home. She watches as an explosion of luxury housing and chain store development spurs bitter conflict over who has a right to live in the city and to determine its future. While some people view these development patterns as ultimately revitalizing the city, to others, they are erasing the eclectic urban fabric, economic and racial diversity, creative alternative culture, and unique local economies that drew them to Brooklyn in the first place. It seems that no less than the city’s soul is at stake.

Meanwhile, development officials announce a controversial plan to tear down and remake the Fulton Mall, a popular and bustling African-American and Caribbean commercial district just blocks from Anderson’s apartment. She discovers that the Mall, despite its run-down image, is the third most profitable shopping area in New York City with a rich social and cultural history. As the local debate over the Mall’s future intensifies, deep racial divides in the way people view neighborhood change become apparent. All of this pushes Anderson to confront her own role in the process of gentrification, and to investigate the forces behind it more deeply.

Photo by Jamel Shabazz

She meets with government officials, urban planners, developers, advocates, academics, and others who both champion and criticize the plans for Fulton Mall. Only when Anderson meets Brooklyn-born and raised scholar Craig Wilder, though, who explains his family’s experiences of neighborhood change over generations, does Anderson come to understand that what is happening in her neighborhoods today is actually a new chapter in an old American story. The film’s ultimate questions become how to heal the deep racial wounds embedded in our urban development patterns, and how citizens can become active in fixing a broken planning process.

  16 Responses to “The Film”

  1. I was born and raised in brooklyn and there is no other place like it in the city. It is just a melting pot of cultures, and thats what makes brooklyn so different from any other boro in the city.

  2. [...] See the website for more details: mybrooklynmovie.com [...]

  3. I randomly came across an article by Virginia K Smith on “My Brooklyn” with an interview by Kelly Anderson, as I was researching for my paper on gentrification and its economic and social effects. “My Brooklyn” is a refreshing existence as it brings awareness to the reality of gentrification, a notion lost in random condos that appear over night and disappearance of small business.

    Gentrification is a cause near and dear to my heart as a Brooklyn native (Fort Greene). To see the beauty and culture of my HOME slaughtered by politics and greed is disheartening beyond measures.

    Feel free to check out my project “Economic Diasporas: The Save The Natives Initiative” on facebook or twitter @RIP_Brooklyn. We’re up and coming, but dedicated to the cause nonetheless!

  4. [...] are invited to a screening of My Brooklyn on Monday, October 29, 6pm at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 85 S. Oxford Pl. between [...]

  5. Please be advised, I grew up in Bedsty, when Bedsty was Bedsty. As being black, we were not allowed to attend Catholic schools, they sent children what we called accross the tracks to schools that accepted black children. Downtown Brooklyn was the elite section with known stores that had quality of goods Please check the back ground of downtown Brooklyn. There was always a certain class people who lived in Brooklyn, people who cared about their areas. Downtown Brooklyn is returing to what it was 60 plus years ago stores of better quality, neighborhoods are returning to what they us to be, history is just repeating it self.

    • Hi Georgia, thanks for your comments. As you suggest, there are period of investment and disinvestment in the history of cities, and Downtown Brooklyn is returning to a moment where it is catering to the needs of more affluent shoppers. The point we were trying to make in the film is that these cycles are not natural, and reflect a system where regular people are displaced by larger forger that make money by moving them in and out of neighborhoods. That’s why we focused on redlining, and the accompanying racism that you speak about in BedStuy.

      Thanks for tuning in!

  6. I have seen the trailer of MyBrooklyn. Im an ex-Brooklynite born in Bushwick who has relocated to Florida 8 years ago. As most ex-pats, we moved because we couldnt afford to live there anymore. All over NYC poor working class people and moderate income professionals will not be able to afford Brooklyn or any other borough in the next decade. As a professional and graduate of City College and Brooklyn College , I have seen the decline of diversity since Mid 90′s. As a child of working class immigrants, we were used to moving all over the city to affordable housing in the ealry 70′s and mid-80′s. I grew up around all the nations of the world in Brooklyn and NYC. Now, the options have become limited. Under the guise of cleaning up crime, NYC and Brooklyn communities have been destroyed and families relocated to other parts of the country or the city, in the search for employment, community , and affordable housing. When a family of 4 lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, now one person resides paying upwards of 3,000 . The options are limited for people who make Brooklyn move but not for those with unlimted resources. The higher the income the more the laws can be tilted in their direction to change how neighborhoods are planned.

  7. I saw MyBrooklyn last night and very much enjoyed the personal journey Kelly shared with us. The film did a great job of mapping out the events that shaped Brooklyn into what it is today. The footage was raw and enlightening. Throughout the film, several times, I found myself getting quite emotional. It’s upsetting to see what government/politicians deem opportunistic and the money they will fork out to big developers to drive out the current community and bring in a more capitalistic community. It seems that all these plans and policy start out with a strict set of regulations to ensure that the money is being used properly to better to location for all, but after the money is forked over this set of regulations disappear and the people with the big pockets get to call the shots. The complete disregard for the real communities well being is nauseating. After the film, I kept asking myself one question “How do these people sleep at night?” The answer is unfortunately all too familiar for American’s all over the country, it seems greed has no shame.

    I really hope this film has another run. It was beautifully put together.

    • Thanks so much for the insightful comments! You are right that that is a national situation, and global too. Really appreciate you tuning in.

  8. [...] from Brooklyn will talk about her journey and her neighborhood after a screening of her documentary My Brooklyn (see trailer below) at the International House (3701 Chestnut St.) on [...]

  9. [...] tidningssläppet gick vi till Hyresgästföreningens lokal och såg dokumentärfilmen My Brooklyn, som handlar om hur gentrifieringen av Brooklyn i New York drevs på och planerades av stadens [...]

  10. [...] for erasing diversity – racial, economic, social, and political. We recently learned about My Brooklyn, a documentary exploring changes within New York City’s iconic borough since 2001. Swanky [...]

  11. [...] complex. But a gift that teaches you something is valuable, especially something like My Brooklyn, which studies the story of Downtown Brooklyn and Fulton Mall, and the changes wrought on it in the [...]

  12. Wonderful film and I got to see it by chance. A friend said she had seen it via hulu (“Reframed…is not carried by either of the local PBS stations in Tampa). As a former Brooklyn resident, I participated in the original gentrification of Park Slope. Friends held cocktail parities in their house on President St. for bankers in 1960s in then red-lined Park Slope. I consider that period as a gentrification for the people. Individuals were buying brownstones and limestones and converting them from rooming houses to single for two-family residences. It took nearly 10 years to convince my wife to move there and join our friends pushing the boundaries south, beyond the historic district. We had lived in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach. She was a native, born and bred, I, an ex-pat from the South. When we divorced in ’93 she stayed and I got transferred by my company to Florida. I still consider Brooklyn my hometown and get back every chance I can. In July, my wife and I took her twin granddaughters up for their first visit. Prior to departure I “googled” my old Slope address. Up popped a Zillow page. My former townhouse had been sold in April for $1.721 million! I write that and I am still stunned by the number. Despite wanting to return to live in Brooklyn, it’s impossible. Who can afford that? The gentrification you depicted is not the kind I’m familiar with. The current gentrification of north Brooklyn, including the Slope, Ft. Greene, Williamsburg and Bed Sty, is big money gentrification. I liken it to the “Enclosure Movement” in Britain, where the Gentry grabbed the common land of the lower classes. I was also struct by how the lessons provided by Jane Jacobs are still evident. In July we did a bus tour of downtown Brooklyn and saw all those ritzy highrises. The streets out front of those monoliths were virtually empty. If there were shops on the street level, they were big retail chain brands. None were occupied by those small businesses that disappeared from the Fulton Mall area. Jacobs criticized the same powerbroker attitudes that are present in your film. It seems like urban renewal – rather ethnic cleansing – by another name. Keep on the story. Oh, I hear that Detroit is the next Brooklyn. Maybe I’ll strike out in that direction.

  13. watched it on PBS, great movie, very sad to see the history & the people easily erased with money.
    wondering where this country going? nobody is learning from history. law makers keep making the same mistake again & again. Keep up the fight.

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