The name may have faded, but Los Sures lives.
To those that know, the Southside of Williamsburg is one of the most important Latino neighborhoods in New York City, and it has a lot more than its fair share of the so-called eight million stories. A real estate agent might try to tell you that these days the Southside is 100% boutiques and bars, but you have to be blind to not see the strong Boricuas and Dominicanos that run these streets.
UnionDocs is a nonprofit center for documentary located in the Southside. We’ve been working on Living Los Sures for 5 years, and we are seeking your help now to bring all the pieces together in a final, fabulous year. This is a groundbreaking and massive project. It has the potential to change the way that part of the history of New York City has been written and shift perceptions of the future of this place.
Our goals are to finish the production, let as many people know about the project as possible, and create a package that makes this an incredible tool for education. To date, the project has been acknowledged by the New York Film Festival, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts and POV, American Documentary. Your tax-deductible donation will help us realize the potential many have seen in this project.
For a month starting this September, through a special partnership with MUBI you will be able to instantly stream Los Sures (1984) at home anytime, anywhere. Choose a 30-day or a full-year membership to this curated online cinema as your reward, and we’ll send you a VIP code for completely free access: no credit cards, no trials. Thanks MUBI!
ABOUT THE FILM
Back in 1984, Los Sures had been called one of the toughest ghettos in the USA. It was so infamous, a man named Diego Echeverria made a documentary about it. About seven years ago Pamela Yates and Paco De Onis— filmmakers who live in the neighborhood— gave us a VHS of Los Sures to watch. It was amazing. When we tried to find a decent copy, though, it turned out the film was ALMOST LOST, which would have been a serious tragedy. Just at that moment, some folks stepped up to save the day. Yeah, we’ll go ahead and take some credit there.
The 1984 film, Los Sures, has been our inspiration for this project. With the NYPL we restored the film. Hell yeah!!! We made a beautiful 4K version for theaters, because you’ve just got to see it on the big screen. To get it to the theater, we need your help. But hold onto that thought.
This is not just a restoration project. It’s also about deconstruction. We are taking the film down to its building blocks to find something new. The thing is, when people watch Los Sures, people who really know the neighborhood, they see so much. It’s like they are wearing special glasses where things pop out from the background. Faces of familia and friends, old school styles and b-boy moves, streets and buildings, so many important details of life in the barrio, stuff that’s truly fascinating.
LIVING LOS SURES SHOT by SHOT
Every shot is the starting point for a new story. Some people simply see these images differently. For that reason, we created a pretty slick little website that takes the film and chops it into 326 shots. Then we worked with lots of people in the neighborhood to weave in their pictures, videos, and stories. Thus far we’ve added 450 details, anecdotes, real talk and tall tales from about 40 different people. Our goal is to get up to 1500 stories, with the participation of at least 100 people. But hold that thought too.
30 SHORT DOCS ABOUT LOS SURES TODAY
Over the past 4 years we’ve produced about 30 new short films working with about 48 artists in the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio. These are people from all over the world who’ve put their time and talent into giving incredible local characters the treatment they deserve. About half of these films are online, we need your help now to produce 8 more shorts, and get the whole collection out there.
Ok, so now is the time to take all those thoughts you’ve been holding and set them out on the table in front of you. Do you see what we see? Matt Bolish, head of Convergence at the New York Film Festival said Living Los Sures was “one of the most comprehensive, incredible and in-depth interactive projects that we at the film society have ever seen." Urban Omnibus and El Puente both say it’s an important model for the way nonprofit media can work within community. Your support is a vote for a city that respects the history and legacy of its neighborhoods, that is committed to improving urban realities of working people and not just promoting myths and dreams. When you support Living Los Sures, you not only push this groundbreaking project further, you help to preserve and celebrate the history of one of the strongest barrios in Brooklyn.
1) Finish this project up!
- Produce 8 new short films about the neighborhood by artists in the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio.
- Put together a team to interview at least 60 more people for Los Sures Shot by Shot - this is time extensive work, but the stories we get this way can’t be found anywhere else.
- Produce assets for the special edition DVD and encode the project for streaming.
- Translate everything in the project to Spanish.
2) Get the word out!
Wrap UnionDocs storefront with a three-story public artwork to boldly announce the project to Williamsburg’s 65,000 residents.
Promote the NYC Theatrical Release, get the project out to a few big festivals.
Release one short film each week next year, and highlight different shots each week.
3) Make it last!
- Work with our partners in the neighborhood to make this a living history.
- Hire an educational consultant to help us create a package to use the film in local high schools to talk about race, economic justice, gentrification, community engagement, sustainability and civic participation.
- Work with experts at NYU and Pratt to build out something similar geared towards university students.
To do all this, we've set the following funding benchmarks:
- $30,000 is the bare minimum to accomplish the above. Through grants, we currently have over half of the necessary budget, and this campaign is meant to cover the rest.
- Our top-notch team must wear many hats to accomplish what we have with Living Los Sures while also running UnionDocs. Reaching our stretch goal of $40,000 would allow us to bring on a part-time project manager who can have a singular focus on our goals, allowing us to be sure we are making the most of this opportunity, taking it further, faster.
- If we reach our stretch goal of $50,000, we will get the ball rolling on exciting designs for the museum exhibition that this project deserves. We’ve always seen this as the absolute culmination of the Living Los Sures effort. Given the expansive nature of the project, a smartly designed spatial experience would allow you to feel its impact all at once. We have initial interest from a few institutions, and will pursue this fully in early 2016. Reaching our top goal would pave the way for this logical conclusion to become a reality.
HOW TO USE KICKSTARTER:
Along the right side of this page, you will see a list of pledge levels. Enjoy browsing through all the rewards. When you find a level that you wish to pledge, simply click on that level and proceed to checkout.
UNIONDOCS, INC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Federal Tax ID# 86-1150496. You may deduct that portion of your contribution to Living Los Sures which exceeds the fair market value of any goods or services you receive. We will send a letter acknowledging your contribution and as a receipt for tax purposes following the campaign.
Unless we reach our funding goal, no payments go through and Living Los Sures will not receive anything whatsoever, so please dig deep and support a great cause.
LIVING LOS SURES IN 30 SECONDS
We've created a series of very short updates that will highlight what we've learned, different perspectives on the project, and moments that really move us. For the 30 year anniversary and our $30K goal in 30 days, each of these updates is only 30 seconds, watch them all here:
Risks and challenges
This project is 5 years in the making and we have no doubt that it will be completed in style. Look at all we’ve done so far, without any fundraising. Reaching our minimum Kickstarter goal will mean having the resources to finish, share, and create educational tools around this work. We will feel enormous gratitude, and heave a big sigh of relief. That said, there are a few challenges we face.
A number of theatrical venues have expressed interest in a weeklong NYC run for Los Sures, but we still need to finalize the timing and formalize the partnership. We want to make this effort as smart as the rest of our approach, so we may explore alternatives to the traditional camping out on a single screen for a week. But don’t worry, we run a cinema in Brooklyn too, so we understand the variables. With luck, we might even be able to announce the plan over the course of this campaign.
On the interactive side we are pushing the envelope a bit with the technology. Like all online projects, if the big internet players change the way their browsers and other tools work, we will need some time to adjust and may experience a temporary loss of functionality on the site. Our awesome developers will be all over this, but they are not in-house employees, so we have to schedule fixes individually.
Finally, we know we’ve budgeted a reasonable amount for the educational side of the project, but this will be UnionDocs first foray into creating a package for high schools and universities. That’s why we want to hire an expert consultant. We are hoping to have things prepped for next school year’s start, but there is the chance that may need more time to make this worth everyone’s while.
That’s about it. Los Sures is living with or without us. With your support, we promise this expansive and historic project will also thrive.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)