Film Festival to Celebrate Squatters' History in East Village

By Serena Solomon on July 31, 2013 7:02am 

 A screen shot from the film "Not For Sale," which will be shown at the film festival hosted by the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space.
A screen shot from the film "Not For Sale," which will be shown at the film festival hosted by the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space.
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Yael Bitton

EAST VILLAGE — An Avenue C museum that celebrates the East Village's history of squatting will hold its first film festival this weekend.

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) will expand on its mission to promote the activist history of the East Village, where residents turned derelict buildings into homes and trash-filled lots into gardens, with the eight-day film festival starting Saturday.

The festival kicks off with flicks, created by East Village residents, screening at community gardens throughout the neighborhood.

"We see this film festival as an extension of this work to bring people into the garden to highlight these beautiful spaces that make our community diverse," said Laurie Mittelmann, 24, a co-founder of the museum, which is run by a staff of volunteers.

The festival will showcase movies such as "Not For Sale" by director Yael Bitton, who chronicled the bulldozing of community garden Esperanza on East Seventh Street to make way for luxury condos.

A 1979 film by directors Marci Reaven and Beni Matias, "The Heart of the Loisaida," looks at how Latino residents on the Lower East Side restored neighborhood buildings abandoned by landlords.

MoRUS operates out of a storefront at 155 Avenue C, a former squat known as C-Squat, where it holds community events like art exhibitions and lectures. However, much of the museum's programming takes place in the neighborhood through walking tours of community gardens or at buildings restored by squatters throughout the 1970s and '80s. 

A full listing of films, their locations and start times can be found on the MoRUS website. There is a suggested donation of $5 for each screening.

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