Does gentrification spell the end of urbanism? - AFFR
4–8 Oct 2023
film • stad • architectuur

Festival 2022 – Programme

In a world turned upside down, facing enormous challenges and contending with one new reality after another, AFFR 2022 will focus on the need to press pause. Or, in cinematic terms, to freeze the frame.

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Film – City – Architecture

AFFR explores the relationship between film, cities and architecture by programming and screening architecture films and by organizing introductions and debates.

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AFFR History

The Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) was established in 2000, and the foundation organized its festival the same year as the first architecture film festival in the world. Festivals also took place again in 2001 and 2003. In 2007 AFFR made a fresh start after a few years of silence. In 2009 the event expanded significantly in terms of visitor numbers and programming.

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GES-2 by Nastia Korkia wins the AFFR Audience Award

After each screening, we asked our visitors for their opinion of the film with the celebrated AFFR tear-off card. A convincing majority chose GES-2, the debut film by the Russian filmmaker Nastia Korkia, as the best film of AFFR 2022.…
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Does gentrification spell the end of urbanism?

How the Bijlmer district went from a ‘no-go area’ to an exciting neighbourhood. That was the tenor of a recent headline in the quality British daily The Independent. And if one of the British quality papers reports on gentrification in a Dutch neighbourhood, then you know that things are moving fast. Though described with the usual sensationalism and exaggeration, the changes in the Bijlmer are indeed striking. Does a similar fate await Ommoord in Rotterdam? The middle classes seem to have rediscovered metropolitan living everywhere, even in districts that were high on municipal demolition lists less than a decade ago. With critical documentaries such as Priced Out and I am Gentrification, AFFR expresses reservations about our assumptions concerning gentrification processes.

by Tim Verlaan

Until a decade ago, it was mostly Marxist geographers and other critical urban researchers who used the G word. The process began in the 1960s in the run-down neighbourhoods of American and Western European cities, where well-educated young people and bohemians moved in to take the place of workers’ families who moved out to the suburbs in search of a better life. Attracted by the romanticism of run-down yet affordable buildings and the authenticity of working-class districts, the new arrivals opposed large-scale renewal. Their struggle was successful, and since then gentrification has been discovered by public officials as a policy goal and by property developers as an earnings model. If it wasn’t for the emergence of a new urban middle class, popular and famous districts such as the Jordaan in Amsterdam, Brooklyn in New York and Islington in London would probably have suffered another fate than conservation and restoration.

Priced Out follows these historical developments in Portland — a mid-sized city by American standards in the north-western state of Oregon. As is so often the case with people who write or make films about gentrification, the journalist himself is both offender and victim. In 1998 Cornelius Swart made a documentary about the northern part of the city — at the time still a largely black neighbourhood plagued by decline and crime. But change was hanging in the air, and less than two decades later the streets were the domain of white double-earners and trendy cafés furnished with rough wood and industrial lamps. Progress? Not according to local residents who’ve lived here since before the transformation. Although there’s plenty of debate among academics about the phenomenon, one of the leading figures is explicit about what gentrification means for her personally: pain, loss and sadness.

Swart puts his finger not only on the paradoxes but also on the complex history of gentrification. In the post-war years, black Americans moved to the industrial cities of the north in search of work at exactly the time that industrial employment started to decline and white Americans de-parted in droves for the suburbs. And now that the latter group has rediscovered urban living, the poor Afro-American residents are being forced out. By following their lives closely, the filmmaker does something that many urban researchers neglect to do: chart the future of departing residents.

I am Gentrification is a somewhat lighter account, told by a Swiss journalist who unintentionally leaves a trail of gentrification around the world. Full of self-mockery and scorn for compatriots who think that their cities are becoming overcrowded, director Thomas Haemmerli makes it from squatter to home-owner in Sao Paolo, Tbilisi, Mexico City, Paris and Zurich. Haemmerli succeeds in eclectic fashion in linking his life story to the post-war development of these cities, thereby giving a human face to an abstract socio-economic process. Perhaps the greatest achievement of I am Gentrification and Priced Out is the evidence that gentrification is no longer limited to trendy districts in a handful of Western cities, but has become a global phenomenon that affects the lives of millions of city-dwellers every day.

Priced Out
Friday Oct 11, 16:45
Introduction by Tim Verlaan

I am Gentrification: Confessions of a Scoundrel
Thursday Oct 10, 21:00
Saturday Oct 12, 23:00

Priced Out – Friday Oct 11, 16:45 – Introduction by Tim Verlaan

I am Gentrification: Confessions of a Scoundrel – Thursday Oct 10, 21:00 and Saturday Oct 12, 23:00

film • city • architecture 4 - 8 Oct. 2023