"There are two ways to learn about the world. One way is to travel all over
the planet and see all the different lands. And the other way is to stay in
the same place."
The Feature documentary 7TH STREET draws the viewer into a neighborhood
that most people were once too afraid to enter. An area that most people only
heard rumors about. Alphabet City in NYCís East Village, the drug capital of
the East Coast. A place where only those who had no place else to go ended
The movie brings to life the dynamic, eccentric, beautiful, and sometimes
dangerous people who learned how to survive and flourish amidst the violence
of this vibrant ghetto. Also the viewer will meet the director of 7TH STREET,
Josh Pais, as he recounts his personal story. Pais moved to 7th Street
between Avenues C&D in 1967 and continues to live on the block in 2002. He
reveals his most unusual experiences as a white boy growing up in a hippy
household in the middle of the ghetto with his mom - a poet and painter,
then spending the weekends on the Upper East Side with his dad, a theoretical
physicist who worked with Einstein.
As a child Pais saw the neighborhood in flames. Landlords torched their
buildings because it was more profitable than trying to collect rent. Amidst
the chaos of this neighborhood Pais adopted a street family - the central
characters of the movie. These were the people who taught him how to survive.
As well as chronicling the history of 7TH STREET starting when the area
was a salt marsh through the present, the viewer gets to know Paisí street
family over a ten year period. The documentary was shot from 1992-2002.
The movie explores Paisí struggle as he sees his block transform and
become a safe place for his new born son and a trendy neighborhood for the
new inhabitants at the expense of his street family. The people who were his
role models as a child he now sees homeless in Tompkins Square Park or
discovers them dead.
The movie explores change in one of the most vital areas of NYC and the
complexity of gentrification. Not only is this movie about one block in
Manhattan - it is about neighborhoods and communities all over the world
where progress sometimes is at the cost of richness of character and
7TH STREET will undoubtedly pull your heartsrings and make you look with
fresh eyes at the place you call home.