Welcome to the Neighborhood!
A new documentary short film explores the development of a Brooklyn community through the lens of three strangers. “Neighborhood,” premiering on June 22 as part of a block of docs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s film festival, follows the lives of a pigeon keeper, a webcam performer, and a man who believes in ghosts to comment on the true star of the film — Bushwick, according to its director.
“The initial inception of the film was walking around the neighborhood, and noticing what was once empty lots are now luxury condos,” said Ben Garchar. “I wanted to explore those questions of change, and development, and impermanence.”
Garchar — who moved to Bushwick from Ohio in 2009 — hopes that documenting the rapidly developing Brooklyn will inspire viewers to re-examine the changing landscape around them.
“I hope it will make people think about what they can do —I don’t mean from an activist perspective, but about the small decisions people make,” he said. “Am I engaging with people in the neighborhood? Learning about these people and their experiences, and finding some common ground?”
Garchar sought out people in his adopted neighborhood, and wants his 15-minute film to explore how long-time residents can continue to live in the newly gentrified borough — such as Gabino Quinones, who swears by the omnipresence of inexplicable spirits.
“He’s a secretive mysterious dude, which comes across on screen,” said Garchar. “But once we met him, he was very open and hospitable, and I felt a connection with him. He’s very philosophical and metaphorical.”
Quinones and those like him are being priced out of the neighborhood, and the changing demographics leads to a changing culture, said Garchar.
“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “On the one hand, most people would be happy that there’s not as much crime. But on the flip side, you have these new developments, and bars, and restaurants that are clearly being marketed only to people on the higher end of the economic spectrum.”
The director has no answers, but hopes that his flick will inspire more questions.
“Is this the best way we can go about this? What are we doing well, and where can we improve?” he asked. “It’s about fostering that conversation.”
“Neighborhood” premieres at BAMcinemaFest [30 Lafayette Ave. between St. Felix Street and Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 724-8023, www.bam.org]. June 22 at 2 p.m. $20.