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'Bushwick is Over,' Say People Living There Less than 10 Years: Film

By Gwynne Hogan | November 30, 2015 4:33pm
 The founder of the Bushwick Film Festival Festival is working on a film of her own and is hoping to raise $25,000 for post-production costs.
The founder of the Bushwick Film Festival Festival is working on a film of her own and is hoping to raise $25,000 for post-production costs.
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Courtesy of Kweighbaye Kotee 

BUSHWICK — In the year and half that filmmaker spent shooting and interviewing residents for her documentary "The Bushwick Diaries" one of the biggest surprises along the way was who was most upset by the rapidly changing neighborhood.

It wasn't long-term residents, said Kweighbaye Kotee, 32, rather it was people who'd lived in Bushwick for about ten years.

"They were the angriest. They were the ones who were saying Bushwick is over," said Kotee, who founded the Bushwick Film Festival, and who was recently put in charge of a $80,000 grant by the developer Slate Property Group to fund arts projects in the neighborhood.

"[Unlike] people that have weathered the different seasons of Bushwick...they were less upset about the change."

After months of filming, Kotee, who is from Liberia originally, is raising funds for post-production on the documentary that she hopes will showcase the diversity of the people that call Bushwick home, she said.

She's trying to raise $25,000 by Wednesday morning through a Kickstarter campaign, she said. As of Monday afternoon 90 people had pledged just under $10,000.

"[The] thread of the film [is] just talking about change," she said. "And how you can live in such a close proximity to someone but have a completely different world."

The documentary focuses on interviews with more than a dozen Bushwick residents - artists, musicians, some newer residents and others who grew up in the area, Kotee said.

"It's like a first-hand account of what Bushwick is like based on the people who live here," Kotee said.

The filmmaker encountered many of the people she focuses on in the film organically through her own life in Bushwick, like the man who works a deli near her house.

Others she sought out purposefully in order to tell a more well-rounded story about the neighborhood, she said.

While rapid development and sky-rocketing rents are themes in the film, Kotee said "The Bushwick Diaries" won't be "a film about gentrification."

Rather, it's about "the people; what they're like and what their experiences are."