Make the Living Los Sures project part of your institution's library today or book a public presentation

The New York Times describes Los Sures as “A must see for those interested in both the history of Lost New York and the power of nonfiction cinema.” –MORE PRESS

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Purchase the institutional copy of Living Los Sures on DVD.

It includes the beautifully restored film, Los Sures made in 1984, 6 short films from the Living Los Sures Project exploring the neighborhood today and bonus features including videos featuring the subjects of the original film 30 years later.

About Los Sures, 1984

Diego Echeverria’s film skillfully represents the challenges residents of the Southside faced: poverty, drugs, gang violence, crime, abandoned real estate, racial tension, single-parent homes, and inadequate local resources. The complex portrait also celebrates the vitality of this largely Puerto Rican and Dominican community, showing the strength of their culture, their creativity, and their determination to overcome a desperate situation. Beautifully restored for the 30th anniversary premiere at the New York Film Festival, this documentary is an invaluable piece of New York City history.

Los Sures Trailer

LIVING LOS SURES • 2014

Produced over 5 years by 60 artists at UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art, LIVING LOS SURES is an expansive project about the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Known by its long-term Latino residents as Los Sures, the neighborhood was one of the poorest in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s. In fact, it had been called the worst ghetto in America. Today, it is the site of a battle between local identity and luxury lifestyle. With the restoration of LOS SURES, a brilliant work of cinéma vérité filmmaking as a starting point, the project has developed into a collection of 40 SHORT FILMS, the interactive documentary 89 STEPS, and the cinematic people’s history SHOT BY SHOT, demonstrating new possibilities for collaboration between an arts institution and its surrounding community to collect memories and share local culture.

What other institutions have to say about the project.

Living Los Sures has been presented at institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum,  Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, & the Humanities, the Carpenter Center for Visual Art at Harvard, PS1’s Greater New York Show, Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, Pratt Institute,  School of Communication Hofstra University, Columbia University,  The Documentary Forum at CUNY,  Magnum Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, Visible Evidence, Department of Cinema Studies, at New York University, Ball State University, Syracuse University and the Northwest Film Center. Here are some of the things they have to say about the project:

“We throw the term ‘gentrification’ around a lot these days, but we don’t fully examine what neighborhoods were like before it was a real force. The 1984 documentary Los Sures helps capture the lived experience — both the good and the bad — of the people who called this busy, dynamic community home. The film is a very effective retort to anyone who claims there was ‘nothing there’ before gentrification arrived.”

– Rebecca Amato, Associate Director, Urban Democracy Lab at NYU

Los Sures is an ideal title for a library. It’s an exemplary piece of documentary filmmaking – a multifaceted and clear-eyed community portrait, and discussion inspiring on any number of levels.”

– David Callahan, Principal Librarian  Reserve Film and VIdeo Collection of the New York Public Library

“The Living Los Sures project constitutes an innovative teaching tool that expands the educational possibilities of documentary media. The diverse films, texts, and images provide an engaging account of how South Williamsburg, Brooklyn has changed in recent decades as well as a contemporary record of day-to-day life within this dynamic neighborhood. More broadly, the project offers a creative and productive way to think about broader issues concerning race relations, health care, and gentrification in urban America today.”

– Joshua Glick, Assistant Professor of English and Film Studies, Hendrix College

Los Sures is an extraordinary documentary that provides a window into the lives of a New York City community and demonstrates how Los Sures Latinos lived their lives and was impacted when the City’s planned shrinkage and disinvestment policies were put into place. This set the scene for the reinvestment policies produced by rezoning policies and riverfront development that Williamsburg experienced at the turn of the millennium creating the conditions for gentrification and Latino displacement.”

– Sam Beck, PhD, Cornell University

Tito (3rd from left) with friends in a street in Los Sures, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, USA. Tito is one of the principal subjects of the 1983 documentary, Los Sures, about the predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood and produced and directed by Diego Echeverria. Photograph made October 14, 1983.

(c) Ellen Tolmie 1983.

Written permission required to reproduce in any medium; permission also dependent on complete credit being given.

Living Los Sures relates to a breadth of university courses including but not limited to:

Latin American Studies, Documentary Studies, Urban Planning, Film Studies Documentary, Interactive Projects, Anthropology and Social Practice.

Themes include:

Gentrification, Poverty, New York City/ Urban History, Community Engagement, Social Practice, Oral History

Bring Living Los Sures to your Institution: Live Presentations of the Project

Christopher Allen, Director of the Living Los Sures Project has presented the multi-media project across the USA and internationally at festivals, museums and universities.  The presentation covers each element of the expansive project, is flexible in length and can be preceded by a screening of the 1 hour film, Los Sures (1984).

Request a Screening
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Christopher Portland

Christopher Allen is the Director of the Living Los Sures project and the Executive Artistic Director of UnionDocs, Center for Documentary Art. He is a producer of documentary media projects and a programmer of multi-disciplinary events. After graduating from Columbia University and studying at Trinity College Dublin, he co-founded UnionDocs, a Center for Documentary Art, and has been responsible for the organization’s growth from grassroots as the Executive Artistic Director. He has initiated many collaborative projects, uniting the creative efforts of hundreds of artists, documentary makers and communities, including Living Los Sures, Documenting Mythologies, Capitol of Punk and Yellow Arrow, which have been exhibited in festivals, galleries, and museums internationally.

For the past two years, he has been included in Brooklyn Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture. He collaborates on media and performance projects with artist A.S.M.Kobayashi.

Frances Lucerna of El Puente on the significance of Living Los Sures today.

Frances Lucerna, Co-Founder & Executive Director. Frances has been a pioneer of community arts and education for the past 30 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Dance from Hunter College and Masters of Arts, in Education and Supervision, from Bank Street College.  She danced professionally for 10 years and in 1980 returned to her community Williamsburg, Brooklyn and founded the Williamsburg Arts & Culture Council for Youth, a performing and visual arts program for adolescents. In 1982, Ms. Lucerna became co-founder of El Puente, a nationally recognized community/youth development organization nurturing holistic leadership for peace and social justice.

As Artistic Director of El Puente, with the Williamsburg Arts and Culture Council as its cornerstone, Ms. Lucerna developed Brooklyn’s most comprehensive Latino Arts and Cultural Center, providing pre and professional training in five arts disciplines. She has also nurtured three professional performing companies in Dance and Drama comprised of El Puente youth, and has produced and presented the talent of local as well as international artists to the community. In 1998 El Puente received the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ “Coming Up Taller Award” in recognition of its outstanding community arts programs.

“It’s a blessing to have UnionDocs and a project like Living Los Sures. When you’re in the trenches fighting, you don’t always have time to write down the history or to take the pictures. So, unfortunately, a lot of the history goes untold.”

–Ramon Peguero, Southside United HDFC (Los Sures)