It was very fun …
to screen and discuss the recently revised cut of Between Neighborhoods in Joshua Glick's Contemporary Global Documentary course last Monday, 10 June, at Columbia.

Photo by Aley Seoudy

The questions from the students as well as Josh, especially about process and practice, were thought-provoking –– to say the least. I thank them for their engagement and generosity. It was also cool to screen a few minutes from Small Kitchens and to converse about its connections and contrasts in content, politics, and form to Between Neighborhoods. This final (2024) BN cut benefited exponentially not only from its new archival footage but from the work of Ricardo Ponce (who cleaned up so much of the archival sound that sounded so good up at Columbia) and of Aley Seoudy (whose input about edits and design was so evidently excellent). And it was super cool that Aley was able to attend the screening!

Listening to Joshua Glick, photo by Aley Seoudy

Monday was a very gratifying day, indeed. And it stokes our anticipation of public screenings of Between Neighborhoods, in this New York World's Fair and Unisphere sesquicentennial year, as well as sharing this updated work with instructors and students across fields and disciplines, globally!

It's especially special to screen Between Neighborhoods at Columbia this June …

Between Neighborhoods (90', 2016-2024): Moses memo from the Gilmore D. Clarke Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

I'm keen to screen my recently revised Between Neighborhoods at Columbia University on June 10. Because my documentary diptych is about the present and past of NYC, it's always stimulating to discuss it –– especially with students –– in NYC. But this is a particularly meaningful moment to screen Between Neighborhoods anywhere, but especially in NYC, because spring 2024 is Unisphere's (and the last New York World's Fair's) 60th anniversary. And for the sesquicentennial, I updated and revised my video essay's content and form, resulting in the new version (which includes new archival footage from original research). This 2024 cut previewed at the College of Charleston in March and will premiere in completed form at Columbia in June.

Between Neighborhoods' Columbia connection is longstanding. It was the first university to purchase the film, and it has been taught there steadily for years –– notably and gratifyingly, across departments and disciplines. Consequently, I have been biking over Moses's Triborough for several summers to discuss my work with students in Joshua Glick's Film courses. Josh, who attended my Film and History seminar at Yale, where he did his doctorate in Film and American Studies, has been a long-time supporter of Between Neighborhoods; he's responsible for this interview with me about it in Jump Cut. That conversation was a valuable opportunity to clarify (at least for myself) what my film is about and to explain why and how I made it. Columbia History Professor Amy Chazkel also teaches Between Neighborhoods –– in her Latin American Cities course –– to explore transnational NYC. Amy is an even longer-term supporter of this project than Josh; she moderated (and helped organize) the Latin American Studies Association symposium about Between Neighborhoods at the CUNY Graduate Center that considered its earliest public iteration, exhibited as an installation there.

But Between Neighborhoods' Morningside Heights roots reach beneath the history of the history doc's exhibition to the bedrock of its initial production. My audiovisual essay first took shape while I was teaching on both sides of Broadsay, in Barnard's History Department and Columbia's graduate program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Significantly, Between Neighborhoods emerged in dialogue with the ideas and research I presented in my undergraduate US Empire on Film Barnard course, where I lectured around my original Unisphere footage, which I was then editing in the college's library. Meanwhile, in Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, I was conducting research in the papers of landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, Robert Moses's long-term collaborator who conceived Unisphere as the 1964-1965 Fair's Theme Center. That research, some of which (as shown above) shows up on screen, profoundly shaped my understanding of Unisphere's development and of Moses's investment in its invention. Those investigations also ignited my research in other archives, particularly the Fair Corporation's papers held in the New York Public Library. Those materials, fundamental to Between Neighborhoods' development, continued to generate new insights and visual evidence for my artdoc's 2024 revision.

On the occasion of the June 10 screening, I will replace Columbia's 2018 edition of Between Neighborhoods with the new one, which is now also for sale and rental via this site to other individuals as well as institutions. I hope that it finds its way anew into the world, especially classrooms. Unisphere itself remains standing, as Moses planned, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where it appears more-than-less unchanged across its six decades. But its stoic form offsets the profound changes among the neighborhoods that surround it as well as the globe it represents.

I immensely enjoyed my visit to the College of Charleston…

It was gratifying to preview the recently revised Between Neighborhoods at the College of Charleston on March 27. It was especially super cool to be introduced by my old friend and former student Professor Lisa Pinley Covert, who also moderated the Q&A.

And, earlier that day, it was energizing to meet with the engaged and engaging students in Professor José Chávarry's seminar on the culture of US empire in Latin America, where we had a stimulating conversation about film and history and film as history.

BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS (2024) preview at Terraza 7 • Monday • March 11 • 7PM

Where better than Terraza 7 to preview and discuss the revised and remastered BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS? Not only did I shoot the film's final scene inside Terraza, years ago, but the cultural venue is at the center of the forces generated by the social globalization of Queens, via immigration, that have remade the borough and redefined Unisphere, from the bottom up, across the last 60 years. My split-screen documentary works between original and archival footage, to contemplate at once the present and past of immigration and imperialism –– the ongoing competition between social and corporate globalizations –– that orbit the Unisphere in Queens, since Robert Moses put it in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the last New York World's Fair. This new iteration –– featuring new multiarchival video research –– arrives in time to celebrate Unisphere's diamond jubilee in April. Terraza will provide a crucially timed opportunity to talk about the film and receive feedback from viewers in Queens as we enter the homestretch to complete our sesquicentennial cut for our subject's April 18 birthday (three days before the entire Fair's 60th anniversary).  Among the we are sound designer/audio engineer Ricardo Ponce and associate editor Aley Seoudy. Oh, hold on, how cool and appropriate is it that Ricardo's new band, LADO B, performs its premiere concert, at Terraza directly following BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS' preview?

BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS and Me at the College of Charleston

I'm very much looking forward to screening my recently remastered BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS at the College of Charleston on March 27. The Screening and Q&A are open to the public.


My interview with Bill Morrison and essay about INCIDENT (30', 2023) – his new film that deconstructs the police shooting of Harith Augustus on the South Side of Chicago – is out in the Village Voice.  The timing is not accidental; the short is about to have its NYC premiere (at DOC NYC) in the East Village, where Morrison lives and works and where we met, at McSorley's Old Ale House, to talk about his startling work composed from bodycam, dashcam, POD, and CCTV footage. 

Up at Columbia last Friday

I can't say that I've had a more enjoyable experience discussing my work than I did last week with the exceptionally prepared and perceptive students in Joshua Glick's Global Doc course. Thanks Sylvia Chaves O'Flynn for this shot of Josh and me.

Visiting Columbia University • June 2

I'm looking forward to visiting Joshua Glick's Contemporary Global Documentary summer course at Columbia, again.  I'll be up there –– where I taught for a couple of years, a decade ago, as I began making films –– to discuss works about global Queens: my documentary diptych Between Neighborhoods, which Butler Library owns and that students will watch before we meet, as well as my observational tone poem Small Kitchens, which I will screen in person along with works-in-progress from Movies for Moses: my series of surrealistically inflected short artdocs –– composed from original research in Robert Moses's papers, archival and original footage, and found sound –– that newly historicize the Power Broker's legacy by satirically situating his private correspondence within the wider field of contemporary pop culture and social politics in which he operated. Maybe a couple of other, even newer, things too … who knows?

Encore Broadcast (not April Fools)
The Actor in His Labyrinth airs again on CUNY TV Presents: April 21, 22, and 23 at 2:30PM on cable RCN 77, Optimum/Spectrum 75, Verizon FIOS 30, and via an antenna on 25.3 in NYC.
The Actor in His Labyrinth on CUNY TV
The Actor in His Labyrinth airs on CUNY TV Presents: NYC Film Festival: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March, 17, 18, and 19 at 2:30 PM on the following NYC stations: NYC Metro 25.3 • Spectrum 75 • Optimum 75 • RCN 77 • Verizon FiOS 30.
Cool (Medium) New Year News

CUNY TV selected Small Kitchens and The Actor in His Labyrinth to air in 2023. Stay tuned for details.

Zama (and me) in Greenpoint, Saturday, Nov 12, 7:00pm

Lucrecia Martel's Zama (2017) is a great historical film, for how it moves between present and past, how it mobilizes art to do history.  Her adaptation of Antonio di Benedetto's 1956 novel, about a frustrated Creole colonial official posted in provencia, is a prequel to the postcolonial histories projected by her prior three compelling features –– La ciénaga (2001), La niña santa (2004), and La mujer sin cabeza (2008) –– all set in her hometown of Salta, more or less "today."  Zama stands with Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) as an incomparable historical essay –– not because both are Latin American-made films about Latin American histories, but because they are each (differently) startlingly original works of historical art –– in both senses of the term: audiovisual art that does history and the art of doing history (in any media).  I am looking forward to discussing these themes, and others, at Zama's screening in the Latin American Surrealism Series sponsored by the Latin American Film Center of New York.  It's at the Film Noir Cinema in Greenpoint –– one of the grooviest spots to view a flick in NYC.

The East Village Detective

My essay The East Village Detective: On Bill Morrison's Historical Poetics went live today in the Los Angeles Review of Books.  I began making films because of my work as a historian, but I could not have written this essay without my experiences making films. Ideas and practice between documentary art and writing history continue to reverberate in my work, changing each, especially in terms of form. In any case, this essay contemplates, among other things, how Morrison's art (how art, period) is essential for the practice of history.  It also deals with the interborough and intergenerational history of film and art in NYC, between Flushing's Joseph Cornell, about whom I'm now working on a film, and the East Village's Morrison.


with Sebastían Ospina, the film's subject, following its screening at Terraza 7, on Saturday night, was a difficult-yet-gratifying experience.

Photo: Javier Castaña

It was difficult because my film was, of course, a subjective perspective on its subject-cum-protagonist, one that depended entirely on his participation but also on my entirely independent production of my story about his life. The resulting profile was not uncritical, and it was, therefore, unnerving for me to have Sebastián view it for the first time, especially in a public screening; I glanced his way only once, furtively, while he watched, standing the entire time, behind the rest of the audience. Consequently, It was gratifying to hear Sebastián share how moved he was (he said that he cried throughout the screening) by a profile, the angles of which he had not anticipated, in which he recognized himself, anew, as an actor in his labyrinth. I could finally exhale as I absorbed his generosity.

Good News from the Queens Council on the Arts, that …

I've received a 2022 New Work Grant from the QCA's Queens Arts Fund, supported by NYC's Department of Cultural Affairs, to produce and show the video essay I proposed about the history of art in Queens connecting artists (Joseph Cornell, Isamu Noguchi, Ben Shahn, and Peppino Mangravite) across neighborhoods (Flushing, Long Island City, Woodhaven, and Jackson Heights) over decades (between today and the Thirties).  My bike rides through Queens generates this project's contemplation of the east of the East River legacies of these four artists in dialogue with my own practice's intraborough journey. 

Queens Rising …

shares on its comprehensive calendar the deets about art here, east of the East River, including THE ACTOR IN HIS LABYRINTH's June 25 preview at Terraza 7.


Cool to have The Actor in His Labyrinth find new friends.

Thanks QUEENS LATINO for this …
about The Actor in His Labyrinth's screening at Terraza 7 on June 25 at 8pm, when my doc's subject – Sebastián Ospina – joins me for the talkback.
I learn so much about my films…

from conversations with students. I had the pleasure to do that this week at Columbia when I visited Professor Joshua Glick's Global Documentary course for what has become a yearly event – but the first in person for a couple of years. Things really have come full circle: I worked with Josh in the Film and History seminar I taught at Yale when he was doing his Ph.D. there; not too long after that I began to move from film historian to historian filmmaker (about a decade ago) while teaching at Barnard and Columbia where I began to conceive Between Neighborhoods (up on the screen, above, the other day) through lectures in my Projecting American Empire on Film course composed to footage that I was then shooting around the Unisphere and archival research including materials in Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It all gives a special feel to the exchange with film students the other day in Morningside Heights, where their comments and questions – about Small Kitchens, Our Neighborhood, The Actor in His Labyrinth as well as Between Neighborhoods – changed, again, how I see my docs.

It's all very meta. I'll be previewing an advanced cut of my Covid project, The Actor in His Labyrinth, at Terraza 7 the last Saturday night in June. Terraza 7 is not only where I screened an early cut last fall but also where I shot much of it a couple of years ago, when I observed its protagonist Sebastián Ospina perform his one-man play about Simón Bolívar. That's not all; Ospina will join me on the 25th to discuss the film with the audience, after he sees it for the first time – at Terraza 7! Could be a wild night … I hope! But it will definitely be an excellent one, because after we discuss my film (about which you can read at its link above) some truly awesome Flamenco artists are on the bill.  So ride the 7 to 82nd Street and have a ball.
Seeing Social Globalization in Queens

This film series features three different programs each built around a different doc of mine about the present and past of immigration in Queens.  The screenings take place on 23, 24, and 30 of October at 6:30pm, outdoors at Terraza 7 near the 7 train in Elmhurst-Jackson Heights.

• October 23/Sat     The Actor in His Labyrinth 

• October 24/Sun    Between Neighborhoods

• October 30/Sat     Small Kitchens  +  2021 Epilogue

A short sample of Olmsted, Moses, Al, and Me – my new essay film about the intersection of public and personal histories – screens in each program, which includes filmmaker Q&A.  Admission is free. This series is made possible by a City Artist Corps Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts, NYC's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, and the Queens Theatre.

City Artist Corps Grant

It's great to have been awarded a City Artist Corps Grant, to stimulate NYC's "creative resurgence" this fall. Mine will fund a series of three public screenings + community conversations (October 23, 24, 30 @ 6:30 pm) of three docs of mine at Terraza 7, in Elmhurst-Jackson Heights, Queens, the pandemic's NYC epicenter. Terraza 7 has been the heart of the cultural resistance to that scourge by sustaining the arts in the center of the city's most socially vulnerable and culturally diverse neighborhoods, across Covid Time.  Each event will feature one of my docs –– Between Neighborhoods, Small Kitchens, and The Actor in His Labyrinth (premiere) –– all of which contemplate this part of the world, focusing differently on immigration as the social context of this area's evident resilience and the city's reliance on its transnational diversity for its cultural as well as its economic sustainability. I will also preview short samples of Olmsted & Moses, Al & Me, a work-in-progress that maps intersections of personal and public histories across NYC.  I'm very excited to show and discuss this new video essay! 

Thanks to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York Foundation for the Arts, NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (Made in NY) , as well as Freddy Castiblanco, owner and artistic director of Terraza 7.  Details about each screening to follow here and Terraza 7 in early October.

1245 Eastern Parkway, 1964, 1969, Today

Of course, you never know what will happen when documenting.  Consequently, it's super cool when something super compelling happens unexpectedly –– and you capture it. We had one of those magical moments in July, when SLF summer intern Rabei Javaid and I were out shooting observational footage/scouting future shoots for my new essay film project Olmsted, Moses, Al and Me. In front of the Crown Heights apartment building where I was born, an unanticipated, initially awkward, encounter became the source for this teaser that contemplates the place of place in connecting people across decades, in a place that connects Brooklyn across centuries. Thank you Joe Taylor for your generous contribution and Rabei for keeping the camera running, so well!

Our Neighborhood's new teaser

Check out this new teaser for Our Neighborhood, my documentary underway about Washington's secret and semisecret production of TV propaganda for Latin America across the 1960s. The film grows from my original research as well as my published scholarship. Amos Damroth worked with me on the teaser's editing and Gaspar González of Hammer and Nail Productions consulted on its form as well as on the entire doc. Amos also works at Pickerel Pie Entertainment where Dewey Thompson and Chris Torella supervised the shooting of interviews sampled above. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to Our Neighborhood's completion, you can –– and please do! –– via the Center for Independent Documentary.

Small Kitchens postscreening conversation links here

Discussing Small Kitchens with friends, new as well as old –– from across Queens, NYC, the USA as well as across the Atlantic and the Río Bravo –– was very cool. (The above photo, e.g., was sent to me by Marcos and María Elena Aguila who watched in Cuernavaca, México.)  Here's most of the postscreening conversation, moderated by Jeran Halfap of the Queens Historical Society.

Viewing a film in person with other spectators on the kind of (large) screen the filmmaker intended to show their work is irreplaceable; yet, the expansion of streamed viewings and (more importantly postscreening Q&A's) necessitated by (and perfected during) Covid times, demands that this digital dimension continues postcovid as a supplement (not substitute) for onsite events, because it virtually enlarges interaction across space in real time.  We need to think about how to do this, better and better, going forward.

Small Kitchens screens January 10, 2021 at the Queens Historical Society, online

I'm excited to screen Small Kitchens –– my new doc that contemplates work and food between a Nepali restaurant and a Mexican food cart, a few blocks away from each other under the 7 train, on the Jackson Heights-Elmhurst border along Roosevelt Avenue, in Queens –– at the Queens Historical Society in January.  Completed just before this most global part of New York City became the epicenter of the the global pandemic, Small Kitchens' examination of labor and culture is now also a time-capsule of life just before Covid-19 changed everything here, and everywhere.  You can register to attend the even online at the QHS link, above. There will be a Q&A after the screening, to which I look forward.

Untapped New York on Between Neighborhoods

It's an opportune moment for Untapped New York to review Between Neighborhods, which contemplates the global and local histories of immigration and so-called modernization that orbit the Unisphere in Corona, Queens, interborough epicenter of the global coronavirus crisis.

Thanks Global Doc Media @Columbia

It's become a Summer ritual, visiting Josh Glick's Global Documentary Media course at Columbia. This year it was via zoom. But I've never learned more about my own work than I did from these superb students' discussion of Between Neighborhoods and Small Kitchens. Current events, between Covid-19 and the protests George Floyd's killing generated, enhanced our conversation about documentary art, Queens, and the world, from across which these students beamed in. It was all very cool and very rewarding. (And thanks for the picture.)

Between Neighborhoods via VOD

My documentary about the interborough and international histories that orbit Robert Moses's Unisphere in Queens, can now be streamed VOD for either individual or institutional (e.g., classroom) rental or purchase. It seemed like a good time to do this, while cooped up during this Corona Crisis, which provokes thinking about immigration in Queens and the limits of modernization as Covid-19 ravages and Trump threatens the globally diverse neighborhoods around Unisphere and around Seven Local Film.

The Actor in His Labyrinth

At work on a new doc that chronicles the passion of Sebastián Ospina, as the Colombia-born actor promotes and performs in NYC the one-man play he wrote about Simón Bolîvar, the Great Liberator of South America's north. The Actor in His Labyrinth expresses how Ospina's life journey –– which has traveled from Cali to NYC, from Colombian TV star to itinerant theater actor –– viscerally manifests itself in his identification with Bolívar's peripatetic life, intense loves, and inspirational aura. Stay tuned for teasers.

Small Kitchens Community Screening

We had a great rough-cut screening and conversation about Small Kitchens at Terraza 7 on December 14th; the film's first phase was supported, in part, by a New Work Grant from the Queens Council on the Arts, funded by NYC's Dept. of Cultural Affairs.

Democracy in America Film Series @ Yale

Good Night and Good Luck, Director George Clooney (USA, 2005) 93 min. Followed by a talk back with Seth Fein

When: Thursday, December 5, 2019, 7:00 PM
Where:  Whitney Humanities CentermapAuditorium
53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511

Description: Democracy in America Film Series Humanities and Films at the Whitney, supported by the Barbakow Fund for Innovative Film Programs at Yale)

Open To: Yale Staff, General Public
Admission: Free
Small Kitchens Previews at Terraza 7 • Dec 14

We preview a first-cut of our new artdoc about restaurant work on Roosevelt Avenue at Terraza 7 next month, in the neighborhood where we shot it. Check out some clips here.

Windows, new teaser for Small Kitchens
Small Kitchens, about food work in Queens, screens at Terraza 7 on December 14, 2019 at 7pm.
Small Kitchens coming

Small Kitchens, about food work in Queens, screens at Terraza 7 on December 14, 2019 at 7pm.

Brooklyn College Hound/WBCR on Small Kitchens

It was fun to talk about Small Kitchens with WBCR for the Hound.

"Closing Time" new teaser

Check out this taste of Small Kitchens, the artdoc that we're currently cooking in Queens.

Small Kitchens, now cooking

This teaser is from footage we recently shot at Mi México Lindo in Elmhurst for Small Kitchens.

Screening and Discussing Between Neighborhoods @ Columbia University

Terrific time talking doc with students in Josh Glick's Global Documentary Media seminar at Columbia, 10 June 2019.

Bill Morrison @ Brooklyn College • May 10, 2019

Very excited to welcome Bill Morrison to speak to my Film History course this Semester after we screen his amazing Dawson City: Frozen Time. It's open to all.

Doc event @ the CUNY Graduate Center • May 6, 2019
Small Kitchens wins NYC New Work Grant
Excited to get started on Small Kitchens, a new artdoc composed to the rhythms of work within confined cooking spaces in two, socially distinct restaurants, in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, Queens.
The Interbay Cinema Society awards Our Neighborhood a 2019 LightPress Grant

Very appreciative for the Interbay Cinema Society's LightPress Grant for digital scanning of archival film footage for our production of Our Neighborhood, about Washington's TV cold war against the Cuban Revolution in Latin America across the 1960s.

CUNY TV Interview: Documenting History
Between Neighborhoods at the Queens Historical Society
Between Neighborhoods on CUNY TV
Discussing Between Neighborhoods on CUNY TV

Filmed an interview this week for CUNY TV's Short Docs web series about Between Neighborhoods and other Seven Local Film projects.  It's scheduled for release on November 26, 2018. 

Between Neighborhoods screens @ Queens Historical Society • 17 November • 2:30
Queens Museum • Between Neighborhoods Q&A
Best Documentary Nominee • Between Neighborhoods  
Queens Ledger-Brooklyn Star
Our Neighborhood Fundraiser
"Between Neighborhoods: documentary art, audiovisual scholarship, and public humanities," JUMP CUT 58 
REVIEW FIX: "Seth Fein Talks 'Between Neighborhoods'"
Founders Choice Award for Documentary • Between Neighborhoods 
Queens Chronicle