Film Image
Changing Face of Harlem
Producer: Shawn Batey & Shaun Jaffier
62 minutes

Changing Face of Harlem

Told through the personal accounts of residents, business owners, politicians and real estate developers, CHANGING FACE OF HARLEM explores the drastic transformation of this historic neighborhood over a ten year span. The film tackles the pressing issues of class and cultural preservation as the neighborhood struggles to change for the better.

Recognized internationally as “The Black Mecca,” the neighborhood of Harlem was overlooked for decades. Longtime residents weathered the storm despite the abundance of negligent landlords and the lack of basic city services. Bank practices of redlining in the 1980s prevented many residents from purchasing historic brownstones within their own blocks.

Recently, however, Harlem has developed into a prosperous neighborhood for commercial and corporate interests that now consider buying property in the area an ideal investment. With this influx of real estate developments, a younger and more affluent group of new residents has move in dramatically growing and changing the population of Harlem.

Harlem residents have a mixed range of opinions about the future of their community. Some are fearful of what lies ahead and look towards the past for the best of its years. Others foresee a brighter future and happier days for a better Harlem. The consensus in the community is a concern and necessity for cultural preservation.

As urban communities of color across the nation face similar struggles, CHANGING FACE OF HARLEM addresses the timely issues of urban renewal, gentrification and how a community deals with the challenge of maintaining identity while accepting change.
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"Shawn Batey's documentary captures Harlem's contemporary revitalization, featuring new commercial and residential developments. On the surface, the changes are astonishing... but not every longtime Harlem resident is eager for gentrification... Highly Recommended". - Video Librarian
"In interviews filmed on the streets, in homes and offices, and at contentious board meetings, longtime residents share their struggles to find affordable housing; city developers talk about urban renewal; and small-business owners speak of preserving their culture... This insightful video raises important issues and questions relating to urban renewal, gentrification, and cultural preservation." - Candance Smith, Booklist Online
• San Diego Black Film Festival
• Charlotte Black Film Festival, NC
• Imagenation-Raw Space Gallery, Harlem
• San Francisco Film Festival
• Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival
• Capital City Black Film Festival
• Long Beach Indie Film Festival
• Harlem Film Festival
• St. Louis Black Film Festival
• New Filmmakers Series, New York
• Maysles Cinema, Harlem
• Urban Media Makers Film Festival, Atlanta
• Reel Sisters Film Festival, New York
• Big Muddy Film Festival, Carbondale
• Documentary Forum, New York
• Calabar Imports Pop Up, New York
• Tsion Café, New York
• California African-American Museum, Los Angeles
• National Conference on Race & Ethnicity, Washington, D.C.
• Allied Media Conference, Detroit
• Black Cinema House, Chicago
• All Soul’s Episcopal Church, New York
• National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, Chicago
• Association for the Study of African American Life & History Conference
• NYU Social Justice Film Festival, New York
• Gotham Center, The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York
• Bowdoin College, New Brunswick, Maine
• Cathedral of St. John The Divine, New York
• The San Francisco Public Library
• St. Phillips Church, New York
• Urban Affairs Association Conference, San Diego

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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.