This week, When SHoP Architects unveiled plans to overhaul the Domino sugar factory in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, it marked the most recent chapter in the area’s transformation from low-rise industrial zone to inexpensive artists’ enclave to in-demand residential district. In her impassioned new documentary, Gut Renovation, director and Su Friedrich chronicles that change over the course of several years.
The film is at once a documentary about 21st century urbanism and an extremely intimate look at how the unique composition of a neighborhood—residents, business owners, history—can be wiped away by gentrification. Friedrich constructed the film from footage that she shot between the mid-2000’s and 2008, as New York City rezoned scads of warehouses (which had been transformed into studios and homes by artists) and small businesses into residential areas ripe for redevelopment and condominium towers quickly sprouted up across the neighborhood. By turns aggressive and meditative, Gut Renovation is at its core an expression of grief for the unique civic tapestry that Friedrich believes has been unwoven by of the forces of urban evolution—and a memorial to what was lost. Record spoke with Friedrich in advance of the U.S. premiere of Gut Renovation at New York’s Film Forum on March 6, which kicks off a weeklong run of the film.