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Posted: Fri., Jan. 4, 2002, 2:33pm PT

Boom: The Sound of Eviction


A Whispered Media production.  
Directed by Francine Cavanaugh, A. Mark Liiv, Adams Wood.

Nowhere in the U.S. was the crash that followed the "New Economy" boom heard louder than in San Francisco, which recklessly bet heavily on the dot-coms. Homegrown docu "Boom" charts the resulting devastating impact on local communities over the course of about five years. Sobering feature has played short theatrical gigs around Northern California; larger relevance of its theme signals further play at fests and in select broadcast slots.

The dot-com craze is just part -- albeit a large part -- of the complex canvas here, as developers, politicos, landlords and others rushed to take advantage of S.F.'s prominent emerging status for Internet-based businesses. Traditionally culture rich but land starved, the City by the Bay accommodated its money-waving newcomers by tightening zoning law loopholes and allowing the wholesale eviction of many poor/ethnic families, mom & pop shops, social service facilities, arts organizations, not-for-profits, etc.

Bitterness over this "digital divide" was exacerbated by Mayor Willie Brown's cavalier attitude: At one point here he's heard dismissing protesters from the gentrification-choked, decreasing-ly Latino-populated Mission District as "not representative" of their own communities.

When the dot-com bubble burst, party time was over for its beneficiaries -- but the previous residents had long since been forced to leave their homes, in some worst-scenario cases ending up homeless. Ultimately this "New Economy" story was ye olde familiar one: The rich got richer, the poor got poorer.

Partisan yet evenhanded docu casts a wide net, weaving individual stories into the tangled sweep of commingled real estate, activist and public policy conflicts.

Excerpted archival travelogue pitches provide an ironic counterpoint to this portrait of a city's soul being sold off. While amount of information and its chronology may sometimes confuse viewers not familiar with Bay Area politics, "Boom" still makes a powerful cautionary statement. Fast-paced package is well turned on tech levels.

Camera (color, video), Cavanaugh, Liiv, Taylor, Wood; editors, Cavanaugh, Liiv, Wood; sound, Alex Theory. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, Dec. 14, 2001. Running time: 97 MIN.

2001 Cahners Business Information  2001 Variety, Inc.
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