Feb 20th 2012 – Death to Capitalism cinema

Death to Capitalism:
Moives about activism in Williamsburg
PEOPLE’S FIREHOUSE #1, Newsreel, 1979, 25 min.
, Christine Noschese, 1984, 60 min. (director in person for Q&A!)
(a live score to) BIG BUSINESS, Laurel & Hardy, 1929, 19 min.




Two films about radical action in Williamsburg, followed by a live score of Laurel and Hardy’s Big Business.


“We’re making our point to the whole United States: you can fight the system; and win!”

The first film is about how a small, Northside community gathers together to oppose the closing of a local firehouse. Williamsburg was under attack by the city bureaucracy: the fire house closing was another in a series of closings, executed by the City during the 1970’s, that left the community increasingly vulnerable and decayed. The closing of the fire house was the last straw. They occupied the firehouse and began a campaign to win back fire protection and reviatlize their neighborhood. The film describes a two-year fight which finally results in forcing the City to restore the engine company.

The New York Times
‘The People’s Firehouse’ Faces Another Fierce Battle of Wills
Published: April 27, 2003
When the city announced plans this month to close eight firehouses, many New Yorkers were angered. But for neighbors of one firehouse in Williamsburg, the news was a wrenching flashback to a battle they thought they had won years ago.

In November 1975, the city ordered Engine Company 212, a 113-year-old firehouse on Wythe Avenue, to close as part of a budget-cutting plan. Local residents, already angry at the city for demolishing houses to build factory space, saw the move as part of a plan to condemn their neighborhood. The night before the firehouse was to close, they stormed it, preventing the fire truck from leaving. They vowed to stay until the station reopened.

Their sit-in lasted 16 months. Boy Scouts, grandmothers and entire families took shifts on mattresses, blocking the city’s attempts to discredit them (one official accused them of being Communists) and remove them from what became known as ”The People’s Firehouse.” Finally, after 16 months, the city reopened it.


For more, click on this link.



The second film, Christine Noschese’s tough but cheerful Metropolitan Avenue, showed the people of a multi-racial Brooklyn neighbourhood aggressively conscious of the need to conserve community life, and fiercely engaged to combat the efforts of the city to sacrifice them to civic cut-backs or the predations of property developers.

David Robinson, The Times of London on October 30, 1985

In taking her

camera to Metropolitan Avenue in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn, Christine Noschese was onto something. It’s a neighborhood, we learn, in which Italians settled nearly a century ago, Poles about 60 years ago, blacks after World War II. It has been sliced up by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and beaten up by all the common depredations of urban life, yet it remains home to a lot of people. Miss Noschese, who grew up in Brooklyn, set out to celebrate the efforts of some of the people to hold onto and improve their communities.

Walter Goodman, The New York Times on May 16, 1986

[This documentary] probably touches on every problem that every urban neighborhood has either gone through or will face. … Christine Noschese, the show’s producer and director and a former Brooklynite who delivers the narration, expresses a point of view, focusing on the women of the diverse ethnic communities. She documents, through interviews, their strength, individually and collectively, and their persistence.

The n

eighborhood’s problems are almost textbookish in their content. In the 1950’s, the elevated highway split it in half. In the 1960’s, a new housing project brought 900 families, most of them black, into a community long settled by Italian-Americans who lived in neat private houses. In other situations, a manufacturer of boxes receives the go-ahead to demolish homes to make way for its new plant, and the local police station is threatened with closing.

It was these sorts of problems that injected a previously unknown sense of activism into the lives of the people of the neighborhood. Anger at decisions made by faraway forces grips the residents and bridges are built between black and white. Surprising and beneficial results ensue.

Richard F. Shepard, The New York Times on August 16, 1988

After the films, Jaime and Nico (from Rosa Apátrida) will be performing a live score to Laurel & Hardy’s Big Business!

124 S. 3rd St (near Bedford Ave)


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