More Reviews – Gut Renovation

“Gentrification is a story known in nearly every large U.S. urban area, but this time it is told from a more personal perspective.  The filmmaker communicates her sadness and anger at the changes that occur around her, using both ambush and undercover interviews with real estate developers and buyers.”  Linda Frederikson, Washington State University Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ gives students the impetus to look at—and mark, research, explore, and fight for—their own environment. The film makes personal the larger forces of urban development, gentrification and demographic changes and, in doing so, not only shows the profound effects of these structural changes but also how people can intervene in them.” Julia Foulkes, Associate Professor, The New School

“‘Gut Renovation’ provides a personal account of the demolition and the resulting physical, social, and economic changes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Filmed over a five-year period, the film chronicles the rapid change of Williamsburg from a working-class industrial neighborhood to a neighborhood of residential condominiums catering to upper income households. Contrary to policymakers’ descriptions of the former neighborhood as moribund, the film highlights the displacement of businesses from the formerly vibrant industrial neighborhood. In doing so the filmmaker calls into question public policies that hastened real estate development in Williamsburg. This film is of interest to urban planners, policy makers, and urban designers involved in the shaping of the built environment.” Suzanne Lanyi Charles, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Northeastern University

“‘Gut Renovation’ is an ideal accompaniment for any course that discusses the costs of gentrification and the impact of growing inequalities on the middle classes as well as the poor…As Friedrich documents the process of her own eviction, we learn more than any treatise could tell us about the political and economic underpinnings of gentrification and the emotional costs of displacement.” Ida Susser, Professor, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

“‘Gut Renovation’ ignites and engages college audiences. Like Jane Jacobs, Friedrich surveys her neighborhood from her apartment window, except that in Friedrich’s case, what she sees from her Williamsburg, Brooklyn window makes her “crazy angry.” While watching the film, student audiences are torn. Young people recognize the injustices of gentrification, and want to better understand and address its specific causes, yet they also feel the pull of the hip condominium world that has pushed out artists and homegrown business. Friedrich’s personal approach frames the problem with humor, outrage, and panic. Ultimately, students experience the facelessness of Friedrich’s enemy. They leave wanting to know more.” Alison Isenberg, Professor of History and Co-Director of the Urban Studies Program at Princeton University; Past President, Society for American City and Regional Planning History

“Even the “designer dogs” are not immune when Su Friedrich levels her gaze at the causes and effects of rapid gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, her longtime home. The result is a visceral and intensely personal encounter with the social, psychological, and physical impacts of neighborhood change. Acerbic, insightful, and moving, ‘Gut Renovation’ is required viewing for everyone who cares about the future of cities. City planners, architects, urban designers, urban historians and sociologists will all find the film immensely provocative and rewarding.”Elihu Rubin, Assistant Professor of Urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture

“This emotional, sardonic, sometimes funny, often sad story of Su Friedrich’s experience in Williamsburg is a detailed accounting of how gentrification happens, building by building. The film captures much of what was great about Williamsburg and how much was lost in the hyper-gentrified “Condoburg” of the Bloomberg era.This detailed look at the nitty gritty of gentrification would be useful in any class about gentrification in the city, whether it be urban geography, history, sociology, or anthropology. I think this would be a particularly useful film for students in real estate as well.” Winifred Curran, Associate Professor Department of Geography DePaul University

“…told in all its absurdity by a victim of the very cycle of creative destruction she helped set into motion… [‘Gut Renovation’] reveals the many complexities and contradictions in elite America’s rediscovery of the urban…Friedrich is compelling as she chronicles the wholesale destruction of her community and home.” Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor, Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning 

“Ms. Friedrich is fighting mad. She is a provocateur…The images of Williamsburg in the wake of a gold rush are not attractive. As pictured by Ms. Friedrich, who photographed the movie, it is a mostly ugly architectural mishmash executed without an overall vision, beyon the prospect for developers of making as much money as quickly as possible.” Stephen Holden, The New York Times Read the full review here

“There is nothing subtle about ‘Gut Renovation,’ Su Friedrich’s latest documentary. She’s pissed and she wants you to know it.” Sarah Goodyear, The Atlantic Read the full review here

“On one hand, the movie mourns the loss of a community. On the other, however, it asks how this or any community is defined, who makes and misses it, and how it might be remembered.” Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters Read the full review here

“Unapologetically personal, ‘Gut Renovation’ is a singular but incredibly meaningful perspective on a faceless, multifaceted phenomenon.” Bryan Koenig, The Brooklyn Ink Read the full review here

“The film is at once a documentary about 21st century urbanism and an extremely intimate look at how the unique composition of a neighborhood—residents, business owners, history—can be wiped away by gentrification…”Dante A. Ciampaglia, Architectural Record Read the full review here

“…a searing and illuminating documentary on condo development left largely unchecked.” Serafin LaRiviere, Daily Xtra Canada Gay News Read the full review here

Video Interview: “Artists Used to Live Here” – Blouin ArtInfo

“…a scathing portrait of one neighborhood’s demolition and transformation.” Jason Andrew, Bushwick Daily Read the full review here

“If Friedrich’s outrage is palpable in person, it comes across clearly and cogently in the film.” Gary M. Kramer, Gay City News Read the full review here

“It is a tone poem, a subjective and emotional distillation of anger and grief.”Susanna Locascio, Hammer to Nail Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ is Friedrich’s cri de coeur that charts the dissolution of her Williamsburg neighborhood…” David Fear, Time Out NY Read the full review here

“‘Gut Renovation’ chronicles the rapid transformation of Williamsburg as well as Friedrich’s memories of a place she can no longer call home.” Cynthia Lugo, Brooklyn Rail Read the full review here

“…all are subjected to Friedrich’s sarcastic gaze…”Claudia Steinberg, BOMB Magazine Read the full review here

“…takes a hard look at the changes that Williamsburg has undergone since the implementation of new zoning laws in 2005.” Kristin Iversen, The L Magazine Read the full review here

“The movie gives an angry and uniquely personal look at how rapidly Williamsburg went from being an industrial zone and an affordable artistic and ethnic community to ‘Condoburg,’ as Friedrich calls it…” Cea Weaver, The Surreal Estate Read the full review here

“Su Friedrich…has made the most salient and personal film about Brooklyn’s ever-changing face since Hal Ashby’s The Landlord appeared in theaters some 43 years ago. ‘Gut Renovation’ is bound to polarize audiences. It’s a polemical howl in the night, a desperately angry and sidesplittingly funny look at one oh-so-mythologized neighborhood’s transformation…[It’s] a film essay that is of a piece with the work of heady French names like Godard and Varda.” Brandon Harris, Filmmaker Magazine
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