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Boom - The Sound of Eviction
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by Thom

"The underside of the dot-com phenom treated with depth, breadth and clarity"
5 stars

The heady, free-wheeling dot com dollars that decimated San Francisco are explored and abhored in this documentary that is a metaphor for these Enron days. When the bubble started to grow, college grads could finally look forward a job that would land them squarely into the middle class with ironically, less spending power than their parents.

The new economy brought these immigrants in search of the dot com dream funded by shaky finance and giddy speculation. But San Francisco is a small city without much room to grow. Enterprsing landlords realized the worth of their property and used a variety of ways to evict old tenants, build new dwellings called "live-work" spaces and transform the city of San Francisco into a glittery new playground for the techno-elite.

I was glad to see the Internet Boom because it meant that freaky old me could find a place in a new kind of corporate structure and actually make a living. All of a sudden, having a blue haired employee was a status symbol rather than a liability. But I went to college, studied economics enough to know that I better just have fun while it lasts because it was an impossible economic model. And I'm sure everyone realized the same thing but they all steamed ahead to "get theirs".

Which isn't a bad thing except it was like everyone was on the kind of middle class welfare we call "a job" and as new businesses came in to scoop up their share of the worker's earnings, the prices went up everywhere, everyone was loaded with cash and San Francisco, full of diversity and creativity, was getting flattened out and long time residents were getting squeezed out.

This was felt everywhere but most noticeably in the Mission District, which is the focus of Boom - The Sound of Eviction . For several decades, the Mission has been the center of the Hispanic community, providing low rents for families with small incomes. It was also home to many artists, was the second home of haight street punks and freaks attracted by, well, the grit.

The end was near when new four star restaurants started opening up next to taquerias and providing Valet Parking. Valet Parking in the Mission has been an endless source of amusement to my long time friends who have been hanging out in the Mission since "Back in the Day". Except that the old Mission has been erased and all the people that once lived there and hung out there have moved on, into Oakland, Los Angeles, Portland, Austin.

Boom skillfully weaves together footage of protests, first person narratives and lavish dot com parties to tell the story of the steamroller of progress while bringing up difficult issues like displacement, gentrification and the way our economic system works, or doesn't work.

Now that the boom has gone bust and kids who were formally rolling in it are now back at their parents house trying to get a job at Denny's (not to mention all the people who had lots more at stake, like their children, their homes, their 2 SUV's), the documentary is a bleak reminder of not only what did happen, but what can happen.

If the Dot Com Days were the party, Boom is the next day. When the film was made, nobody knew it would all end so suddenly and without forgiveness. So what would have been a call to arms is now a study in "the logic of late capitalism". Required viewing for sociologists, economists, housing rights activists, anarchists, and anyone curious about what the hype was really all about.

The doc, so far without a distribution deal, has been picking up steam. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times and the LA Weekly ran a piece in conjunction with the upcoming screening on March 15 at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the American Cinematheques Alternative Film series.

This is the kind of documentary that'll get heavy rotation in schools and libararies the world over. France, India and Mexico are going to love this one.

I saw this movie at The Lost Film Festival at Sundance and having lived through the subject of the film, I can say that Whispered Media covered the issue with depth and breadth and clarity and tell a tight story. Their sympathies obviously lie with the displaced but they avoid political jingoism and the kind of "us or them" mentality shared by George Bush and the Free Mumia cult and present the facts along with compelling footage.

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originally posted: 03/11/02 10:10:56
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Directed by
  Francine Cavanaugh
  A. Mark Liiv
  Adams Wood
  Jeff Taylor

Written by
  Francine Cavanaugh
  A. Mark Liiv
  Jeff Taylor
  Adams Wood


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