Documenting Neighborhoods in Transition

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Asian American International Film Festival is this weekend. Two of the films screening tonight document two changing neighborhoods in Manhattan. MA Shumin, director of "The Lower East Side: An Endangered Place", talks about her film on the changing Lower East Side neighborhood. Plus, ManSee Kong, director of "Here to Stay", on her documentary film about gentrification in Chinatown and the role of film in community organizing.


ManSee Kong and MA Shumin

Comments [7]

William from Sugar Hill

Your guest's views amount to nothing more than her belief that her lifestyle choices are superior to those of others. An arch-conservative, masquerading as a liberal, she is afraid of change, and she doesn't like people who are not like her. Her belief that people who have a choice as to where to live have a deleterious effect on the LES because that neighborhood "should be" (according to her) defined by people who have no choice is nothing short of ridiculous. I wonder what other restrictions she would like to place on various neighborhoods with respect to who she thinks should be allowed to live where. Can you imagine arguing that the Mexicans moving into Queens and turning single family homes into multi-family dwellings were destroying the historic and cultural significance of the place. I am middle class, and I have never "destroyed" a neighborhood in my life - though I have been accused of it by narrow-minded reactionaries who think they have a monopoly on what constitutes diversity and liberalism.

Jul. 24 2009 11:37 AM
Jay from Norwalk, CT

If the documentary is about informing people about what's happening to the lower east side occupants, why is is in Chinese?

Jul. 24 2009 11:01 AM
hjs from 11211

of course the new people couldn't buy if the old owners weren't selling

Jul. 24 2009 10:58 AM

I always considered Chinatown kind of old. Isn't Flushing really where all the new immigrants go? Everyone I know from China doesn't like Chinatown, they say it's like 1970s Hong Kong or something, they seem to like Flushing better. It's like it reminds them of the bad old days in China. So I think Chinese-Americans are more attached to the nostalgia of Chinatown than actual Chinese immigrants today.

Jul. 24 2009 10:58 AM
Valky from NJ

It is all about income diversity and not everyone wants that for their neighborhood (it is ok for other people). I lived in the LOE and found that neither the roach infested apartments nor the NYU housing added to the character of the place. A balance of the two might be something more tenable. However this tension has been broken in the last years and it is looking more and more like "anywhere USA" with chain stores, etc. Look at St. Mark's place!

Jul. 24 2009 10:58 AM
eastvillage from nyc

One basic problem with the "gentrification" of the LOE is the new people really regard moving here as temporary living, as a playground. Hence, a neighborhood cannot survive and cannot be created because the constant transition of the new out after they had their NYC experience. But the new arrivals increase the rent and costs of living for the people who really want to make NYC, and in particular the LOE, home for their natural life. In addition, the new shops are really homogenous and have the feel of the mall.

Jul. 24 2009 10:55 AM
Frank from NYC

Isn't this just capitalism at work? I cannot afford to live on Central Park West. Do I have a right to rent there? Yes, if I can pay the price. The Chinese immigrant has a right to keep his home if he can pay a fair, market rent. Let's also not forget Chinese immigrants are doing the same -- pushing out locals -- in the fast-growing neighborhoods of Flushing and Sunset Park.

Jul. 24 2009 10:52 AM

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