Film Review: MY PIECE OF THE CITY (Canada 2017) ***

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This feature documentary explores the revitalization of Regent Park through the youth who live there as they navigate the challenges of performing in the musical showcase called ‘The Journey’.

Director:

Moze Mossanen

Writer:

Moze Mossanen

Every year, young people from Regent Park come together to perform “The Journey”, a musical exploring the complex history of their community’s revitalization, one of North America’s largest urban transformations.  The young artists come together to perform THE JOURNEY, a musical that helps them explore various challenges during this crucial period of their lives.  MY PIECE OF THE CITY is the new Canadian documentary that follows these young artists as they create the building blocks of the show, soar with their own artistry, and explore all that they have lost and gained as a new world builds around them.    

The transformations are shown in archive footage showing the old buildings together with the new.

Regent Park first started as a residential estate where there are no roads or streets entering it.  It therefore formed a bubble in the city of Toronto, different from other housing estates.  But this no-streets community became enclosed resulting in high crime of violence and drug dealing with the result of run-down buildings that finally had to be demolished to make for the new.  MY PIECE OF THE CITY is a documentary that tells the stories of the resident of Regent Park – both old and new, from different cultures as far as Brazil and Jamaica all striving to make their lives a better living.  Among the interviewees who have their say are Jackie Richardson, Alana Bridgewater and Jeremiah Sparks.  The documentary captures the hard work and drive of these people, often touching and moving mainly because these rare real people dealing with real problems.  

One character at one point in the doc says how she first came from Jamaica to Canada and this is the only Canada she know.  Another complains about the old community that is lost and how new residents fail to see the history of the community.

This is a story of poor people in a poor community.  Still, it is powerful to see how these people try to make the best of what they have.  The film also shows the difficulty of putting up the musical.  At one point, the organizer loses it for the participants not showing up for rehearsals on time.

MY PEACE OF THE CITY opens at TIFF Bell Lightbox Friday 23rd of February with a Question and Answer session at the 7 pm showing with its director Moze Mossanen.  In his own words: “I am more than thrilled to have “My Piece of the City” screen at the TIFF Lightbox as we’ll be able to share this extraordinary and moving story about the young artists in Regent Park with a larger part of our great city.  The transformation of Regent Park is one of the key turning points in Toronto’s evolution and I’m truly grateful to the programmers at TIFF for shining a light on this important moment as well as the people who are partners in this transformation.” 

This is a small doc with a running time of just an hour that might be a hard sell at today’s box-office. Still MY PIECE OF THE CITY is a quiet important piece that is well worth ones time at the cinema.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/237568333

 

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