Gentrification in spotlight in film screening at TWU

Alice Street poster

Sept. 13, 2022 - DENTON - Texas Woman's University will host a screening of Alice Street, the award-winning documentary about gentrification and the efforts of a community to protect its history, voice and land.

The film will be shown Sept. 26 at 2:30 p.m. in the Hubbard Hall auditorium. Admission is free, a panel discussion featuring TWU and Denton community leaders will follow, and Alice Street director Spencer Wilkinson will attend.

The screening at TWU is one stop on Alice Street's National Impact Tour, which will ultimately include more than 80 screenings and more than 35 film festivals nationally and internationally. The film's premier came at a film festival in London.

Alice Street is much more than a film – it provokes discussion.

"Our main goal in creating the story and doing this impact tour is to get people talking," Wilkinson said. "That's a big lesson from the film, that there's a lot of power in speaking with your neighbors you might not typically speak with. We found that it has sparked dialogue in a way that's really humbling for those of us in the filmmaking team, to see how that happened."

That dialogue has not only been among community members and activists, but among architects and urban developers.

"We had a screening with a group of 100 urban planners at a conference in Calgary," Wilkinson said. "They somehow learned of Alice Street and invited us to show it. It was one of our favorite screenings because of the dialogue that came up. These urban planners said, we really need to rethink how we center culture in our urban planning. Who are we leaving out in our community engagement around new developments? We need to rethink this. Something like that is a pretty concrete example of someone shifting their perspective, and I hope that means it has some impact. It's hard to measure, but there have been a lot of examples like that."

The story began in 2013, when two artists, Chilean studio painter Pancho Peskador and Chicago-born aerosol artist Desi Mundo, formed a partnership to create a four-story mural in downtown Oakland. The site was at an intersection where Chinese and Afro-diasporic communities faced displacement due to the planned construction of a condominium.

The mural faced numerous obstacles: negotiations with property owners, satisfying a community of diverse residents and resolving the artists’ aesthetic conflicts. As the mural began to take shape, past exclusionary policies replayed themselves in the present as gentrification threatened to uproot long-term residents.

Meanwhile, a neighborhood resident launched a protest against the artists, unleashing letters to city officials and newspapers, while the property owner of the mural site planned to demolish it and construct the city’s largest luxury condo.

Peskador and Mundo finished the mural, but three months later, news came that another condominium development would obscure the mural, which had become a source of neighborhood pride.

For more information about the film, visit the Alice Street website.

Media Contact

David Pyke
Digital Content Manager

Page last updated 2:45 PM, October 4, 2022