March 7, 2016
BY ALLEGRA HOBBS
Lights, camera, activism!
A group of Greenpoint protesters who have been badgering the city to build a waterfront park it promised a decade ago will screen the greatest hits of their open-space activism at a local film festival — and the activists believe the creative display is the best way to reel in the mayor’s attention.
“I think video is the best way to get the mayor to act,” said Dewey Thompson of the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, which will air its protest videos at the Greenpoint Film Festival on March 17. “It’s a way of creatively, persistently, pursuing the issue.”
The screening at Williamsburg’s snazzy Wythe Hotel will feature 10 short protest videos the group made throughout the last year in an effort to get the city to snatch up the remaining waterfront lot and turn it into community green space.
The short films will scroll chronologically through the group’s past year of activism — one clip includes an aerial shot of local athletes and prospective park-goers form a huge question mark on the existing turf, while another shows protestors paddling into the inlet in a swarm of kayaks for a water-born demonstration.
Several of the movies use drone footage to capture the sadly un-purchased land from a bird’s-eye view — giving the disgruntled community its first and only look at the hostage plot of land, said Thompson.
“It’s all behind fences, privately owned and cut off from the community,” he said. “The drone footage was a revelation to us.”
The city promised to build a 28-acre park between the East River and Kent Avenue, stretching from N. Ninth Street and Meserole Avenue, to sweeten a massive 2005 rezoning that has allowed developers to build high-rise residences along the waterfront.
Since then luxury sky-scrapers have popped up, packing in thousands of new residents along the overcrowded coast, but the city has so far only purchased 17 acres of the pledged land, and has turned only seven acres of that space into parkland.
The group will show all the protest videos in one go to demonstrate the power of filmmaking as an activist tool — and while the year’s worth of footage has yet to convince Mayor DeBlasio to make a move, Thompson remains optimistic that the camera-carting antics are essential to remaining a thorn in the mayor’s side.
“Is it going to be enough to push DeBlasio to make the enormous commitment to acquire the park?” It hasn’t happened yet,” said Thompson. “But this raises community awareness and lets DeBlasio know we are not going away.” “Can Video Bring Us Our Missing Park?” at the Greenpoint Film Festival at the Wythe Hotel [80 Wythe Avenue between N. 11th and N. 12th Streets, (718) 460–8000, www.green