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LA Times
Thursday, March 14, 2002

                              SCREENING ROOM
                              Calculating the Price of

                              By KEVIN THOMAS, Times Staff Writer

                                   Whispered Media's "Boom --The Sound of Eviction,"
                              which screens tonight at 7:30 at the Egyptian in the
                              American Cinematheque's Alternative Screen showcase, is
                              a real eye-opener. San Francisco has always been a magnet
                              city with infinite attractions and a decidedly finite amount
                              of space. Even so, the city had managed to accommodate
                              all socioeconomic classes, until the dot-com boom of the
                              1990s accelerated the escalation of property values and
                              rents. The Mission District, a longtime Latino working-class
                              neighborhood that was also hospitable to artists, was one
                              of the first targets of gentrification. Family after family and
                              artist after artist were displaced for the construction of
                              pricey condos and new commercial structures.
                                   Filmmakers Francine Cavanaugh, A. Mark Liiv and Adams
                              Wood have charted the ever-spreading gentrification and
                              how the community gradually organized as the Mission
                              Anti-Displacement Coalition to protest. As the filmmakers
                              track the struggles of several individuals to victory and
                              defeat, they intercut an interview with Mayor Willie
                              Brown, who comes across--through his own words--as the
                              villain of the plot. His indifference to the plight of Mission
                              residents is shocking. He glosses over the evictions as
                              voluntary moves and says a meeting of 500 concerned
                              residents with the planning commission is "not
                              representative" of the district. Everything he says so
                              smoothly backs up the claims of the activists that he is a
                              pawn of real estate developers. Some 80% of Mission
                              dwellers are renters, and 80% of dot-comers have now
                              gone bust, yet at last report the Bay Area's economic
                              slump has not returned rents to pre-boom days.
                                   "Boom" is a witty, poignant and impassioned cautionary
                              tale with implications that apply to every big city in the
                              country. Playing with it is Jeremiah Zagar's 12-minute "Delhi
                              House," a documentary about a nonprofit
                              clinic-rehabilitation center-orphanage serving Delhi's
                              poorest inner-city community. "Boom" also starts Saturday
                              and Sunday screenings this weekend at the Sunset 5 at 11
                              a.m. The filmmakers will appear at the Egyptian and
                              opening weekend only at the Sunset 5. American
                              Cinematheque: (323) 466-FILM; Sunset 5: (323) 848-3500.