Housing Project: The Place I Was Born No Longer Exists

The first part of our ongoing project on films about housing looks at communities being pushed out of the places they grew up in. Cities with changing faces. Rents rising. Evictions of all kinds. The strange landscape of what it means to lose one's home.

When putting together this series, we realized that portraits of housing in cinema inevitably grow out of the idea of displacement, of people without any money being pushed out violently from their homes, whether in the slow motion death of gentrification or the sudden, brutal blow of eviction. In these films we find deserted neighborhoods, the skeletons of empty building structures, loud construction sites, in films—in this first cycle—from Latin America and Europe. Whether in Juan Francisco Fantin and Fernando Restelli's Dreams of Pedro, the most recent work to feature in this project, Just About to Take Off, shot in Peru, or in the great Let it Burn from 2019, these ghostly sites of dislocation and eviction become psychic landscapes of their own, as individuals, communities, or both are forced to reckon with the disappearance or displacement of places intimately familiar to them. In John Smith's Blight, the active destruction of one such place by developers making way for a motorway becomes the occasion for a musical, just as The Explorers is a kind of musical and sci-fi parody of the very idea of relocation.

We teamed up with the filmmaking team of that film, which led to their brilliant Implantación, about the people who live in an artificial neighborhood built by the Argentinian government in the early 1970s, to find works that express the many different ways we can think about housing and displacement today. The centerpiece of the series is of course Pedro Costa's masterpiece Colossal Youth, about Ventura, a solitary Cape Verdean laborer lost between the dilapidated old quarter of Lisbon—Fontainhas—where he has spent the past thirty-four years of his life, and the new, sterile lodgings in a recently built low-cost housing complex where the people of Fontainhas are being forced to relocate. In Costa's film, these housing projects and neighborhoods take on a true psychic geography that Ventura and its other inhabitants wander through as if locked in trances. Eviction and displacement here are like the incomprehensible blows of terror that jolt us awake from ever-lasting dreams.

You can also check out many great resources on housing and housing films available online via Anthology Film Archives, our partner for the Housing Project.

In cooperation with

  • Anthology Film Archives
  • La Siberia Cine

Selected films

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