On this coming May Day Bank Holiday Monday, the Dalston Rio will be hosting the British premiere of East of Liberty, a documentary about gentrification and regeneration in the predominantly African-American neighbourhood of East Liberty in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
East Liberty was once one of Pennsylvania’s most prosperous areas, but disastrous urban planning in the 1960s saw both the central business area decimated and tower blocks erected leaving residents isolated in the sky.
But change is again coming to East Liberty. The traffic in the centre is once again flowing after being rerouted in the 60’s, the tower blocks are coming down and new shops are offering everything from yoga to organic food.
Everybody, seemingly, is a winner…
But then voices, excluded, marginalised and anxious began to emerge…
Chris Ivey, a seasoned filmmaker in Pittsburgh, first started working on the project in May 2005. He found himself filming a publicity stunt in which paint bombs were being launched by employees of the regeneration company from a giant catapult at a soon-to-be demolished tower block, East Mall. But, admist the revelry, he found residents far from happy.
“I was hired to document the tearing down of the high rises. At the same time I interviewed some of the residents who lived in the high rises and they weren’t happy at all because of the spectacle that was before them. They were really angry. It was their home, it was where they used to live, some for 30 years or more. Even though in many ways it wasn’t the best place to live it was all they had and to see strangers having fun by shooting paintballs at the block left them furious.”
And so began a journey of investigation in which previous silent rage was given space to talk.
Chris Ivey will be attending the event and answering questions at the end. On the prospect of showing the documentary here in London he said:
“I’m really looking to forward to coming to Hackney to show my film. Gentrification isn’t just happening here in the States, it’s also happening all over the world too. Sometimes it’s race, and sometimes it’s class, but it always comes down to the money – who has it and who doesn’t, and if you don’t have it you’ll get screwed.”
East of Liberty will be shown at the Dalston Rio at 1pm on May Day Bank Holiday – May 7.
The price of admission is £4.
More information about the film, including a tralier and interview with the director, can be found here:
See also www.myspace.com/east_of_liberty