Although I enjoy watching some mainstream Hollywood movies (favorites include Juno, Royal Tennenbaums, Terms of Endearment, Napoleon Dynamite, Best in Show, and various Judd Apatow films), I tend to be more fascinated by and interested in independent films, foreign films and documentaries. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was all the French films we watched in French class growing up (which is how I first learned of Catherine Deneuve). After joining the sexuality research field, I eventually came upon The Dildo Diaries which is an interesting look into sexuality related laws in Texas – some remain to this today and others have since been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court (such as the Texas sodomy law) or other courts.
In any case, recently I came across a film called Flag Wars, which is a look at what happened in one community in Ohio where mostly white gay men and a few lesbians (sometimes as singles, sometimes as couples) moved into a low-income, largely Black neighborhood, bought houses and improved upon them (i.e., gentrification), though not without conflict. As you may know, some people look favorably on gentrification as it can sometimes result in safer, more expensive, artsy, interesting neighborhoods. On the flip side, it often results in the displacement of the poorer long time residents of the area who can no longer afford to stay in their homes. Often this means older women and men being essentially forced from their homes.
The film’s producers did a good job, I thought, of looking closely at everyone in the community and, seemingly, not taking sides. Though some of the long time residents perceived the white gay men as wealthy outsiders, in fact some of them were nowhere near wealthy (and by some people’s standards, buying a $30,000 tear-down and putting your own flesh and blood into its renovation isn’t exactly Trump style wealth). Then again, everything is relative and, in this neighborhood, these prices were seen by some as an absolute fortune, particularly given the neglect that the neighborhood had seen.
There are some very touching moments, such as when community members come together to assist a resident in need of help, and when a zoning official gives breaks to a woman that others would have perhaps long cast aside. Another striking figure in the film is a Chief who runs a phenomenal gallery space inside his home and who patiently and articulately presents his case for his own zoning issues. Personally, I think this film is worth checking out and I would encourage you, if possible, to look for it at a local independent film store rather than getting it through Netflix or Blockbuster, but that’s just my own personal feeling. Even if you do use Netflix, it would be a great one to add to your list.