LA LOMA (OR THE PLACE SOMETIMES CALLED HUNGRY HILL)
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Commissioned by FUSEBOX FESTIVAL & ThinkEAST and told through the simple metaphor of two teens from an under-served neighborhood walking to school, this bilingual short documentary illuminates the intersection of race, economics, criminality, and education in one of the fastest growing, fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in America: East Austin, Texas.
On their way to-and-from school, many of the 450 students of Eastside Memorial High walk alongside roads like Airport Boulevard, Highway 183, and Springdale Road, heavily traveled arteries running through East Austin. Some students, however, have created a more direct route to reach school. Their daily circuit balances along the far edge of urban growth: cutting across large, unkempt fields; committing Class-B misdemeanors in crossing railroad tracks and crawling under train cars; even trekking through deep woods that host homeless encampments and wild animals.
In La Loma, two Eastside Memorial students use the camera to narrate their daily journey to school, in the process both displaying the tenacity of students bent on receiving their education and illuminating the economic and social systems creating an urban geography expressly pitted against them. La Loma explores the impact of rapid urban growth on the residents of one of Austin’s most vulnerable and fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods. The documentary provides students with a mechanism for questioning issues of race and criminality as the teens perform their daily duty, walking to school.