Nora Jacobson's 1992 documentary was recently shown at the AMMI (In Queens, NY) and while it could not be more specific as to place and time (Hoboken, NJ in the late 80s); it grows more universal and timeless with each passing year.
Filmed over the course of 7 years, she captures an urban drama in real-time; the sudden gentrification of a quiet and ethnic backwater community of New York City during the crazy days of the real estate boom of 1982-1988 and beyond.
Carefully nurturing interview subjects, ranging from local developers licking their chops over undervalued housing stock, young artists enjoying cheap rents, aged pensioners clinging to disappearing rooming houses, minority households being bribed to move out; Jacobson also documents the rise and fall of the populist mayor Tom Visiello, as well as state and local council meetings and some smoke-filled back room dealings.
There is no surprise as to how the story of Hoboken ends, but the grace and compassion with which the filmmaker treats her subjects makes Delivered Vacant a must see for anyone who cares about urban life and the social forces that shape it.
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