Speakers: Seth Fein, Film Director
Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Winner of the Founders Choice Award for Documentary at the Queens World Film Festival, Between Neighborhoods is an experimental documentary that nonlinearly examines the present and past of the worlds that orbit the world’s biggest rendering of the world, Unisphere, “theme center” of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, which still stands in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in Queens. An audiovisual diptych, Between Neighborhoods travels between the age of Donald Trump and that of Robert Moses as it works between original and archival footage to evoke the history that connects two discrete forms of globalization –– imperialism and immigration –– across the last half century, in Queens. It shows how people from all over the world, who today reside in the neighborhoods that surround Unisphere, socially redefine the mammoth monument to (“outerborough” and “third world”) authoritarian modernization that Moses imposed from above in the sixties, as a site of democratic transnationalization from below, now. In doing so, Between Neighborhoods shows how a global citizenry in Queens socially challenges Trump’s authoritarian nationalism as well as the neoliberal legacy of Moses’s Fair, notably (but not only) the USTA’s tennis center, which continues to colonize the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the false names of globalization and development. In contesting the imperial idea of an outerborough, Between Neighborhoods documents Queens as an innerborough, as the cosmopolitan center of contemporary New York City, while challenging the contemporary conventions of historical documentary by demonstrating how art and history as well as present and past can constructively co-occupy the same cinematic neighborhood.
Seth Fein is an audiovisual historian and filmmaker. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, where he founded and operates Seven Local Film. His next documentary, “Our Neighborhood” (now in production), draws from his own archival research to tell the story of Washington’s secret TV Cold War against the Cuban Revolution in Latin America across the 1960s, which he recently spent a year developing as a Fellow in Multimedia History at Harvard’s Charles Warren Center. He writes as well as films, and has published widely on the crossborder history of film and television in the Americas, especially about the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. He was a professor of history and film at Yale and currently teaches the history of World Cinema to filmmakers in Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema in Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. About “Between Neighborhoods,” Fein notes, “At a moment when one of Queens’ most notorious sons insists that restricting the world from the United States will make America great again, Between Neighborhoods shows how Queens’ position as home to the world makes America as well as New York City great, now.”
This event is organized by the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History and co-sponsored by DRCLAS.