Los Sures (1984)

DIEGO ECHEVARRIA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1984. Cinematography by , . Produced by Diego Echevarria. Film Editing by .

The Williamsburg neighbourhood that gets its name from the, at the time, predominance of residents of Puerto Rican descent is treated with an honest affection in this short but satisfying documentary. Director Diego Echeverria takes his camera into New York City’s poorest neighbourhood and gets candid testimony from the many figures he focuses on as they upend your expectations of their living situations: a woman raising five children on welfare keeps a pristine home and is making sure her kids get a proper education, a young man who strips cars to sell parts illegally is supporting a wife and baby, a single man works construction as a day labourer because it’s the only way to get by in a part of town that looks like a war zone. For all the problems that Los Sures has with drugs and crime, there are advocates like , a college graduate who works for a local advocacy office and grabs bullhorns out of firefighter’s hands to demand that people help their neighbours when they are in need. Recently restored and hopefully ripe for rediscovery, this powerful film is at once a time capsule of a time and place, and a reminder of the class divisions and lack of economic opportunities in many parts of the country that continue to be a relevant concern today. Echevarria gets a surprising amount of candor from his subjects, who share their experiences and opinions generously.

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