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Roger Paradiso’s Timely Documentary The Lost Village will be Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, January 28, 2018!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 01/24/2018

Roger Paradiso’s Timely Documentary The Lost Village will be Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, January 28, 2018!

Roger Paradiso’s Timely Documentary The Lost Village will be Premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, January 28, 2018!

Here is my interview with Roger:

Nigrin: Your documentary film The Lost Village is about the corporate take over of Greenwich Village and how it has transformed this storied New York City neighborhood. Please tell us more about your film and what inspired you to make it?

Paradiso: I was finishing up the second part of a three part film called SEARCHING FOR CAMELOT which was about Jackie Kennedy's vision of her late husband's presidency.   She called it Camelot in an interview with Theodore White.   And she never spoke about it again in public.  I chose to set that documentary in Greenwich Village because at that time it was the epicenter for the counter culture and arts in the World.   I had been coming to the Village often especially when I was younger and the changes were devastating when compared to what it was in the Camelot period.    I thought that a comparison between what it was and what it is today would be the final piece of the trilogy.   As it happens often in documentaries, it sort of evolved into its own film.   And I thought the title THE LOST VILLAGE should stand on its own.   So did most of my friends, audiences and advisors.  Greenwich Village has been devastated by greed and a society that lost its way.

Nigrin: Your film also focuses on student debt and how going to college is becoming more and more difficult and unaffordable. The one scene where a masked student publicly confesses that she must prostitute herself to pay her tuition bills is very disturbing. Tell us more about this scene and how you were able to capture it.



 
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Paradiso: I was told about a demonstration that was to take place on September 1, 2015.   It was billed as a faculty and student rebellion against the Corporate University, New York University.   I came down with my crew and we shot the demonstration which was very peaceful.   When "Mandy" the anonymous student with the mask spoke, I knew that something more serious than I thought was happening. And I knew I had to keep filming and investigating what was going on at NYU and in the Village. A lot of the conditions were taking place over many decades like tuition increases well above the cost of living indexes.  Rent increases soared and artists and mom and pop shops were leaving Greenwich Village.   Some people say artists are America's refugees always on the run looing for affordable housing and a community that could afford to maintain workspaces.  But when students start prostituting themselves to pay huge corporations for their education and housing, well that is a seismic shift in the way my generation thought our society was going.   We had stepped over the line. I knew I had to get this film made.  So yeah, Mandy was an indelible image.   But I aso heard words coming from faculty leader, Mark Crispin Miller.  "No one should be made rich by running a University and no one should be made poor by attending one."   Education is the bed rock of a Democratic society.  It Is being threatened in an evil way.

Nigrin: Do you see the corporatization of Greenwich Village as a microcosm of what is happening across the United States where the disparity of income between rich and poor is now higher than anytime in our history?

Paradiso: I was filming with Professor Anthony Gronowitz and I asked him what Empire reminded him of our Empire. He said the Roman Empire. Since I felt that what was happening in Greenwich Village was also happening in the rest of the American Empire to some extent, we went into the details and it is a scary scenario.   Starting at the end of World War Two and at the escalation of the Vietnam War we have seen a military expansion around the World that is far greater than the Roman Empire's expansion.   We operate 95% of the military bases around the world costing trillions of dollars.   To fuel the Military Empire, Rome, as the United States does today, borrowed money from the treasury.    When the rich class of Rome saw this happening they took their gold and silver out of Rome and fled to the hills where they built little fortresses (armed with guards).   This is very similar to off shoring corporate profits and those corporations hiring private security, and lawyers,  to protect their assets.   When the rich became richer and the disparity started affecting the well being of the common Romans( generally  slaves and serfs)there were rebellions.   Since the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, among others, we have had rebellions in this country.   The Trump rebellion in my opinion has started and will grow.   And unless we have new leadership, the Decline and Fall of the American Empire will continue until we end up destroying ourselves.   

I will tell you  two stories which are frightening.  Romans loved lead. It became part of their cookware and jewelry.  When it got into the water supply, many Romans came down with lead poisoning. Many think of Flint, Michigan when I mention this.   But Flint  is the tip of the iceberg. Our corporate oligarchy in the post-industrial digital age has poisoned our planet over many decades with elements far worse than lead. When you get your local water analysis please take a look at the acceptable levels of contaminates.   Most of us should say hey wait a minute, there are no acceptable levels of contaminates.   The other frightening scenario is that the rulers of Rome, the Senate and those wealthy families that dominated leading the country as "Emperors",  became so inept that the people welcomed military rulers to come in and take over.   Take a look at Trump's White House.   President Eisenhower called it 'THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX" and it was a warning to our nation in 1961. President Kennedy tried to bring back civilian control of the Military. Trump has gone in the other direction.  

Nigrin:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can relay to our readers?

Paradiso: How far advanced are we from the Roman Empire? While filming on a hot summer's day in the Village,  I saw a shirtless,  baggy- pants, young man running towards our camera.   I stepped in front of the camera to hopefully prevent him from banging into it or stealing it.   The look on his face was timeless.   He could have been a runaway slave with his gold teeth flashing and sweat dropping off his body.   He looked me in the eye as he comes very close and asks me for 20 dollars."So he doesn't have to kill someone", he says. "'Cause I'm so damn hungry mister." He begs me. "Please don't let me go back to jail." I give him the money and he flees into the crowd. 

I turn to the cameraman. Did you get that? He shakes his head. "Nope." He was grabbing his camera getting ready to run himself. I understand I tell him. It would have been a great ending to the film.  Hopefully I kept him from killing someone or going back to jail.  

****************************************************************************



 
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Rebecca Rojer great short documentary Clean In will precede The Lost Village. Here is more info on this screening:

Clean In: How Hotel Workers Fought Harvard for a Union - And Won – Rebecca Rojer (Kingston, New York)

What does a feminism for the 99% look like? Ask the hotel housekeepers who unionized a Doubletree Hotel owned by Harvard University. These women fought the first female president of Harvard to gain a union for themselves. Featuring music by Downtown Boys, this film was produced as a companion piece to the essay "Housekeepers Versus Harvard: Feminism for the Age of Trump" written by Sarah Leonard and published by The Nation. 2017; 21 min. Q+A session with Director Rebecca Rojer!

The Lost Village  - Roger Paradiso (Montclair, New Jersey)

“The Lost Village is a stunning indictment of the corporate take over of Greenwich Village, in the hands of New York University, and made possible by complicit New York city and state politicians.  Legendary venues are now commercial spaces, long time cultural gathering spots have vanished and the bohemian, artistic world which gave the area its distinctive flavor has fled due to high rents and corporate invasion.   Greenwich Village is a microcosm of what is happening across the United States where the disparity of income between rich and poor is now higher than anytime in our history.  This documentary raises the alarm and offers a way to counter such take-overs through citizen activism and grass-root organizations.  A must see for anyone concerned about where the U.S. is going under the rule of the oligarchs." --James Cass Rogers  2017; 91 min. Q+A session with Director Roger Paradiso!

Co-Sponsored by the Rutgers University American Studies Department, and the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!

Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.


Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University


71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$12=General; $10=Students+Seniors; $9=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends


Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

Jimmy John’s of New Brunswick will be providing free food prior to this New Jersey Film Festival Screening!

 

 

 

 




Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.



 
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