Sunday, April 26, 2009
Featured Bronx Film: 'At Home in Utopia'
'AT HOME IN UTOPIA,' a chronicle of a radical cooperative housing experiment in the Bx to air Tuesday on Independent Lens
(San Francisco, CA) -- In the 1920’s, believing they could create a radical new American dream committed to equality, justice and beauty, a group of Jewish garment workers left behind the tenements to build cooperative apartment complexes in the green, spacious borough of the Bronx. Then the Great Depression challenged everything. A film by Michal Goldman with Ellen Brodsky, narrated by Linda Lavin, AT HOME IN UTOPIA will air nationally on the Emmy Award winning PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, April 28 at 10 p.m. (check local listings.)
AT HOME IN UTOPIA focuses on the United Workers Cooperative Colony – aka “the Coops” – the most grass-roots and member-driven of the labor housing cooperatives, where many of the residents were Communists or sympathetic to the communist movement. They became part of a mass movement that was strong enough to get twenty-four states to enact emergency legislation against mortgage foreclosures. In a time of economic ruin, they saw an opportunity to change America into a place they would want to call home.
In the 1930s they opted to bring their passion for racial justice home, by racially integrating their own cooperative house, with unexpected consequences. An epic tale of the struggle for equity and justice across two generations, the film tracks the rise and fall of the Coops from the 1920s into the 1950s, illuminating the passions that bound them together and those that tore them apart. Along the way, AT HOME IN UTOPIA bears witness to lives lived with courage across the barriers of race and ethnicity, foreshadowing the struggles and triumphs of the 1960s and today. As we once again face times of financial uncertainty and upheaval, AT HOME IN UTOPIA is a thought-provoking look at one group’s struggle to create an equitable community.
To learn more about the film, visit the AT HOME IN UTOPIA interactive companion website (pbs.org/athomeinutopia), which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmakers and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.
source: press release/photo of the first Coop residents courtesy of AT HOME IN UTOPIA