Los Sures (Diego Echeverría, 1984, USA, 56 min)
“Living Collaborations” presentation by Christopher Allen (Union Docs, NY)
Followed by a discussion with Jay Pitter, editor of Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity (2016).
Los Sures introduces itself as “a portrait of [a] neighborhood from the personal experiences of a few people who live here.” Shot in 1984 by Diego Echeverría, the film offers an intimate, mosaic-like study of the South Williamsburg neighbourhood and its predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican residents.
Los Sures is at once a rich snapshot of pre-gentrification Brooklyn and a testament to the importance of community. Separated into a series of individual and family profiles—punctuated by observational glimpses of the neighbourhood’s street life—the film’s scope is deceptively vast. While the interviews and testimonials are focused and personal, Echeverría emphasizes the importance of place and space throughout, revealing the deep imbrication between these individuals’ identity and their environment.
Union Docs is a center for documentary production and exhibition located in South Williamsburg. Since 2009 Union Docs has been engaging with the legacy of Los Sures the film and “Los Sures” the neighbourhood through its ambitious Living Los Sures project. In addition to restoring Echeverría’s original documentary the project has fostered new short films (currently totaling 40+), media projects and interactive documentaries, with several responding to the area’s continued gentrification. Christopher Allen will present on some of these initiatives and the work of Union Docs, before joining author Jay Pitter in a discussion about the use of film for community building and place-making.
Christopher Allen is a founder of UnionDocs and is currently the Artistic Director. His individual works and collaborative projects have been exhibited at the MoMA, Harvard’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, the Volksbühne Theatre, DirektorenHaus in Berlin, Independent Film Week, Sonár, DIVA, and Conflux Festivals, among other venues. He directed the interactive documentary Capitol of Punk, which was part of “Design and the Elastic Mind” at the Museum of Modern Art.Christopher was founding-partner of Counts Media, and played a leading role in the invention and execution of many art & entertainment concepts there, such as Yellow Arrow, a place-based storytelling project exhibited online and in galleries and museums internationally
Diego Echeverria is a filmmaker born in Chile and raised in Puerto Rico. He studied film at Columbia University and was for many years a producer/director of News and Current Affairs documentaries for WNET and WNBC in New York, and for NBC News and CBS News in network television. Later, as an independent producer, he directed documentaries for PBS and for European television and developed projects on health promotion, education and in support of social programs in the national and international arenas. Based in Latin America, he was for several years Regional Advisor on Communications for UNICEF, overseeing programs directed to the wellbeing of children and women. Through his company, Terra Associates, he produced a wide array of multimedia, television programs, and audio visual projects targeted for classroom use, health organizations and corporate sponsors. His work in television was awarded two Emmys.
Jay Pitter is the director of stakeholder engagement at the Inspirit Foundation. After establishing a career as a public funder and then a corporate marketing communications director, Jay earned a graduate degree at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. While working as a communications and public engagement strategist, Jay led initiatives for organizations like The Toronto District School Board, The City of Toronto, The Health and Safety Task Force, Toronto Police Service, North York General Hospital, and DIALOG, a national architecture firm. Her work has consistently resulted in increased media penetration, improved revenue generation, clearer internal and external knowledge transfer processes, fostering excellent stakeholder relationships, and safeguarding the public profile of numerous organizations. Furthermore, Jay’s research in environmental studies (site-specific narrative, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), design equity, and urban placemaking) enables her to combine her considerable communications expertise with a keen understanding of creating inclusive communities employing a spatial, social, and systemic lens. She regularly lectures and is a former faculty member at the University of Guelph-Humber. Her writing credits include Spacing, CBC Radio, The Walrus, the Toronto Star, and TVO, and she is the co-editor of the Coach House anthology, Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity.