With the severe, long-term economic and population decline in Buffalo and the surrounding older suburbs, the housing vacancy rate has rapidly increased. Since 1990 vacancy rate estimates have increased from 10% to as high as 23% — among the highest in the nation. Decent, solidly built vacant older houses become community problems, dragging down communities as targets for vandalism and crime. As they are demolished, though, they leave holes in the sense of place, the fabric of community, and a visual and psychological emptiness. This short film aims to promote a conversation about low-income communities' efforts and struggles in revitalizing neglected historical neighborhoods by valuing the people and the place as assets.
Produced by Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Funded by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
WE ARE THE CITY: VOICES FROM THE WEST SIDE provides a portrait of Buffalo’s West Side, its diverse residents and some of the grassroots neighborhood revitalization initiatives implemented by the West Side Community Collaborative, Preservation Buffalo Niagara (formerly known as the Preservation Coalition) and others. As the Communication Arts teacher at the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Jam Vafai has initiated hundreds of students into the craft of filmmaking. In his own works Jam often documents Buffalo’s architectural landscape.
A DECK OF CARDS (14 mins.) focuses on the students who are part of Circle of Friends as they interact, play games, and talk about their experience and changing attitudes about (dis)abilities and life in general. Filmmaker Seth Wochensky has been described by Ozarks Regional Magazine as “one of America’s most talented and perceptive rural filmmakers.”
BUFFALO REUSE: BUILDING COMMUNITY (19 mins.) focuses on the multi-faceted work of Buffalo ReUSE to deconstruct houses in order to create jobs and community. Carl Lee is an award-winning documentary and experimental filmmaker who is currently working on a documentary about musician William Parker.
This video is part of CHANNELS – STORIES FROM THE NIAGARA FRONTIER, Squeaky Wheel’s production program which matches documentary filmmakers with grass roots initiatives and groups to document cultural and social movements that significantly impact the Buffalo region, but are underreported by mainstream media. CHANNELS is supported by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
REFUGEES: BUFFALO’S NEXT GENERATION (18 mins.) illuminates the issues that refugee students face and how the Refugee School Impact Program of Journey’s End Refugee Service Inc. works closely with the families and schools to help bridge the existing cultural and linguistic gap. Brett M. Williams has been making films and videos since 2002 and graduated from the Department of Media Study, State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received the Gregory Cappasso Memorial Award for outstanding achievement as an undergraduate student. Scott T. Murchie is a 2002 graduate from University of Toronto’s Film and Video Department and founding member of Chance Encounter Productions in Clarence, New York.
SQUEAKY WHEEL: CHANNELS - STORIES FROM THE NIAGARA FRONTIER
CHANNELS – STORIES FROM THE NIAGARA FRONTIER is Squeaky Wheel’s production program which matches documentary filmmakers with grass roots initiatives and groups to document cultural and social movements that significantly impact the Buffalo region, but are underreported by mainstream media. Channels is supported by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.