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My Gentrification
Canada / 29:21 / 2020 / sound / colour & b/w / English

"A voice tells us: "a friend of mine drew a circle on a map and said, 'this is where you wanna live'." The this refers to a subsection of Toronto between Bathurst and Dufferin streets, but it could just as easily refer to the city as a whole, an area bustling with life.
Or, at least it did. Marcos Arriaga's "My Gentrification," explores the changes in the ever-gentrifying metropolis through the lens of archival footage they procured through decades of documentation. There's a real Jonas Mekas vibe to Arriaga's film, which is replete with voiceover narration and grainy celluloid archival footage that occasionally bursts into a flare of light. Most impressive is the sheer beauty of the cinematography, which is harrowingly combined with present day black and white footage of the demolition of older neighbourhoods. This is an elegy for a city where developing complexes sprout like weeds, and leech away the cultures that had been implanted there. It's painfully nostalgic; a beautiful and harrowing piece of art that conveys a personalized love and sadness for a changing home." (Tom Wishloff)


My Gentrification is a documentary film consisting of two independent sections that explore my experiences and observations about housing, urban living and the rapidly changing landscape of Toronto. These ideas are presented using personal film footage on Super-8 or 16mm and interviews with local residents which I have been collecting since late 1990.
For nearly 20 years, I have filmed small segments of daily life, street events and personal moments. This footage began taking on more meaning and structure as time passed and the neighbourhood started changing. I discovered that it is a record exploring a body of ideas and thoughts that can be used to talk about the process and impact of gentrification in Toronto.
The first section, "Little Portugal (1997 - 2010)" takes place on Plymouth Avenue, a small laneway street in downtown Toronto near Dundas West and Ossington Avenue. I lived in this area known as "Little Portugal" for 13 years. I rented a small house in an alleyway. It is a very dense and mixed neighborhood characterized by colourful corner stores, pretty gardens and Portuguese bars and restaurants. The film is a nostalgic view of my street and the house that I rented. I eventually moved due to increasingly unaffordable rents and the opportunity to buy a 650 square foot condominium in a building with units designated for artists.
The final section, "Queen West (2010-2019)" is a continuation of this exploration. It documents my new home in a condominium project managed by Artscape on Abell Street, in the Queen and Ossington area. According to Statistics Canada, this neighbourhood contains over 25 per cent of the gentrified area in Toronto.
The old industrial land next to railway tracks was purchased by Urbancorp, a real estate developer, who completely changed the area by building seven new condominium buildings, a few new streets and some small parks around Abell Street. The influx of hundreds of new people is dramatically changing the look and the feel of the community. (M.A.)
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
Monday - Thursday / 10:00 - 18:00
(416)  588 - 0725
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
Monday - Thursday / 10:00 - 18:00
(416)  588 - 0725