CHELSEA — Gazing out over Tenth Avenue from the High Line, filmmaker Marc Levin and his co-producer Daphne Pinkerson were trying to figure out what the subject of their next HBO documentary would be.
They had produced two films for the company that each examined how economic and political forces effected daily lives. They had hunted around the country looking for their next subject, Levin said.
Then sitting there, gazing through the glass window frame on the High Line that overlooks 26th Street and Tenth Avenue, the pair had a bit of an epiphany.
"Maybe this is what we're looking for," Levin said. "It's right in front of us."
The two decided that they'd focus on this microcosm, the intersection of West 26th Street and Tenth Avenue and follow kids growing up on either side of the street as a way to explore complex themes of gentrification, globalization and income inequality, Levin said.
The result was "Class Divide."
"This isn't a conventional report on income inequality or public education versus private education or even gentrification," Levin said. "[It's a] lyrical film. It follows these kids..[and] all of these issues organically emerge."
But the more the crew filmed, it became clear to Levin, who has lived in Chelsea since 1975, that the story wasn't a simple one of haves and have nots, he said.
"These kids really wanted to know each other, even though there's apprehension, there's fear there's stereotypes," Levin said. "Their impulse [was] to get to know each other, have a dialog and sometimes break down all these institutional barriers."
And striking similarities emerged between the two groups of students, Levin said, despite their vastly different upbringings.
"I saw a common ground between the kids at Avenues...and the kids at Elliott-Chelsea houses," Levin said. "[There's] an underlying anxiety about where they fit into this rapidly changing [city]...They feel the pressure."
"Class Divide" is playing this Thursday night at Bowtie Cinemas Chelsea at 260 W. 23rd St. at 7:15 p.m. It will be available for viewing on HBO in February.