I’m hosting a screening of two great documentaries at the Somerville Public Library on Thursday, Dec 15 at 6pm: MISSION HILL AND THE MIRACLE OF BOSTON and IF IT FITS. Both are from 1978 and take place in Massachusetts (the films are courtesy of Documentary Educational Resources, whose collection of films is a marvel). It’s free and open to the public!
The sociological filmmaker Richard Broadman made MISSION HILL AND THE MIRACLE OF BOSTON, which is set in the midst of the urban renewal projects that changed Boston in the 1960s and 70s. The city and powerful institutions want to redevelop the Mission Hill neighborhood, dreaming of a “New Boston,” but as you can see in the movie, neighborhood residents know the history of the area and feel that the space belongs to them. Broadman records their stories to make a complicated social history document, and it’s not short on local color (my favorite line: “everybody just wanted to save enough money…to move out to Somerville” – pronounced “Summavull”).
IF IT FITS is a film by one of my favorite filmmakers, John Marshall about the city of Haverhill, MA. By the 1970s the city was was in bad economic shape – the main industry of shoe manufacturing is in decline and the municipal leaders of the former “Queen Slipper City” spend most of this movie figuring out what to do about it. My hometown of Troy, NY, reminds me of Haverhill (it was the “Collar City” for its detachable collar factories, which have shut down for obvious reasons), and this verite film captures the crises that afflict a lot of post-industrial cities in the US. 16mm verite filmmaking and local politics are a great combination.