When was the last time you played at the handball courts? Chris Henderson at MovieHouse has given Bushwick residents a new reason to congregate at the playground—the CinemaParque movie series, presented with the Open Space Alliance, which features Spanish-language films, screened on the handball courts at Sternberg Park.
July 1st marked the kick-off event, a cozy evening where people sat on the blacktop to watch six short student films screened on the court walls. The five students involved were part of the New Children/ New York organization of Make the Road New York, directed by Gisela Sanders- Alcantara and Lauren Mucciolo. The films, which focused on youth Latino experiences in the local community, explored issues such as identity, community graffiti, family, immigration, sexuality and the adolescent experience.
All films were in English and Spanish and included subtitles, and ranged from fictional movies to documentary style pieces. While all of the filmmakers were under 21 years old, each film was a well-made, captivating narrative that addressed real issues in the community.
“These films are as good as any film we’ve shown the past three years,” Henderson said.
In “Wrong Way,” by Mike Velasquez, a girl is paid unfairly by her employer. “She’s just a wetback,” the employer tells the judge in a court scene. “You hired an illegal immigrant?” the judge asks. “That’s just a term for Mexican,” the employer scoffs.
“Aerosol,” by a student named Desiree, was a beautifully edited short documentary about Graffiti artists, while “The Sad Churro Family,” by students Joshua and Jeremy, was a fictional story about a family and a creatively entrepreneurial daughter trying to make ends meet after the head of the household is deported. Particularly moving was “G-Boys,” by Bryan and Robert, a film which explored sexual identity, fitting in and the woes of high school adolescence. The final film, by a student named Patricia, was an extensive project set in Bushwick and Ecuador and explored a family’s struggle to thrive and remain close with thousands of miles between them.
City Council member Diana Reyna helped to introduce the event, stressing how Sternberg Park, which has been undergoing renovations in the last ten years to make it more family-oriented, was as an important venue choice because it meant looking outside of traditional options such as McCarren Park and engaging other areas of the North Brooklyn community.
The evening was a perfect night for a movie screening. The projector hummed quietly as the sounds from the game at the baseball field across the park drifted through the air, and shadows from nearby trees rustled on the handball wall. On July 15th, MovieHouse will host another event at Sternberg Park, a Spanish short-film festival.