Hidden Gems in Seward Park Library’s Heritage Film Series

Over the last couple months, the Seward Park Library has quietly been screening some remarkable historical footage from the Lower East Side. The Lower East Side Heritage Film Series features films (both documentary and fictional) that were shot on location in lower Manhattan.  Part 1 of the series treated audiences to actual 16mm footage shot by L.E.S. residents and librarians in the 1930’s, ’40’s and ’50’s in the Seward Park area. The Seward Park footage was on a double bill with “The Godfather Comes to Sixth Street,” a great documentary (also on 16mm) about how Coppola’s “The Godfather, Part II” affected the neighborhood on E. 6th Street when they shot there in the 1970’s.

Last month’s feature was “The Golden Age of Second Avenue,” (1968) which documented the Yiddish theater in America from its beginnings to the late Sixties.

Curator Sean Ferguson says he hopes to highlight films made about (and by) the many different communities that have given the Lower East Side such a rich cultural history.

This month’s film is “From Spikes to Spindles (1976, 52 min, 16 mm) – directed by well-known documentarian and longtime independent film renegade, Christine Choy. The film is a time-capsule of Chinatown in the ’70’s and focuses on “a vibrant community whose young and old join forces to protest police brutality and hostile real estate developers. With bold strokes, it paints an overview of the community and its history, from the early laborers driving spikes into the transcontinental railroad to the garment workers of today.” Choy has noted it is “the first film ever done on the experience of Chinese-American woman.”

The L.E.S. Heritage Film Series screens on the first Tuesday of every month in the Seward Park Library’s Community Room (192 E. Broadway) at 6:30pm.  The screenings rarely last more than an hour and are free and open to the public.