It’s no secret the East Village has gone through immense changes over the last few decades, but some institutions from the pre-$20 cocktail days have stuck around. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, a DIY project that occupies the storefront of C-Squat, is dedicated to preserving the history of that squat and others. And MoRUS’s third-annual film fest, I Heart NRCHY: Subversion & the City continues the narrative of political and social activism and anarcho-community organizing.
In doing some archival research on the Umbrella House– a co-op building located on Avenue C that was once a squat house and is now dabbling in some progressive experiments in urban living– we came across plenty of C-Squat memories and constant reminders of how deep the history of subversion, activism, and DIY runs in the East Village.
Though the museum and C-Squat aren’t exactly partners, they’re still connected through a common ethos. “Sometimes we collaborate,” said Byron Kaplan, a volunteer at MoRUS. “The programming we have and the people who live at the squat are obviously closely related, so there’s always involvement between the two.”
The fest has evolved over the years. The inaugural event was “more directly aligned with what the museum represents, the squatting movement, and community gardens,” according to Byron. (The second year was dedicated to “Women of the Lower East Side.”) “This year is more of a general theme of anarchy with a focus on different topics on each night,” he said.
For the first time in the film festival’s history, all of the screenings will take place in community gardens throughout the East Village and Lower East Side.
Of the various issues spotlighted, topics include “Anarchism in America,” “Bio Terror,” and “Sustainable Activism.” The fest is also diversifying its programming beyond films. On Monday, August 3 at Le Petit Versailles, community activists will share stories as part of an oral history presentation.
MoRUS is teaming up with some likeminded organizations such as ABC No Rio and Interference Archive– the Gowanus-based activist archive, library, and gathering space– which will be hosting an event on Friday, August 7 at El Jardin del Paraiso.
Interference has selected three films to share including Voces de Fillmore, a documentary about the small Puerto Rican community living on block-long Fillmore Place on Williamsburg’s Southside, and a neighborhood’s struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of gentrification and development. The filmmakers are three women who are activists in the community they document.
MoRUS is dedicated to grassroots activism in general, and though its programming definitely has a neighborhood focus, this year the organization is hoping to attract a more diverse set of people to the film festival. “We’re trying to get a broader audience, to appeal to a city-wide crowd and not just the local East Village one,” Byron explained.
All-inclusive passes run just $20 and will score you access to all eight of the events. Check out the schedule for outdoor screenings happening in community gardens of the Lower East Side: