70 Hester Street is a mini-documentary in which a man remembers his childhood growing up in a unique Lower East Side apartment that was once a synagogue and a shower curtain factory, amongst other things.
I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a building that was once a synagogue, a whiskey still, a raincoat factory and when I was born there, a studio for my artist parents. They moved in after they got married in 1967 and rented the top two floors for 45 years from another family. In 2012, the 130-year-old building was sold by that family and my parents moved out. But before they did, I filmed the hell out of it. And I realized I shared history with countless people who had lived or worked in this old building over two centuries. I filmed the neighborhood I grew up in and saw how rare old buildings with shared histories were becoming.
My film is about my childhood home and how much of the past you could still see in it when we left. It’s about the development of a neighborhood a lot of lives have passed through and whether you can protect that legacy while still making room for new lives and new memories. In making my movie, I tried to follow some advice my mom gave me: “Don’t make a movie about moving out. Make it about how great it was to live here.” I like that sentiment but I couldn’t help wondering what was going to happen next to the old building I grew up in. - Casimir Nozkowski
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