This is the story of a Latin female cleaner who is fighting for justice. She is an undocumented immigrant trying to put food on her table. In a 14 minute film, aspects of the hard life of those who decide to live in another country, are portrayed by a multicultural production.
A few days before Passover, Fernanda, a young Mexican woman, is hired by a Brooklyn cleaning agency to work in the local Jewish Hasidic community.
Despite a prolonged wait for her payment, Fernanda continues to faithfully show up for work each day at Nechama’s house.
An unexpected connection between the two leads to a fight for justice against the cleaning agency at fault, bridging the gaps between their very different worlds.
This is the story of “Division Ave” and is inspired by true events happening to this day on the corner of Division & Marcy Ave in Brooklyn, NY.
This modern day slave labourers market started in the early 1990’s, in a different illiamsburg location.
It is a common practice for individuals and companies to frequent Division & Marcy early in the morning and hire a cleaning lady for the day. The women, mostly immigrants from Latin America and Eastern Europe, are often underpaid and sexually abused.
The ladies on the corner come from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Poland, Romania and other countries. Some of them are unable to obtain a work visa because they have no academic background. Others are unable to cover the costs of the application process. The majority of them have dependents – either kids or other family members.
This reality is portrayed in “Division Ave, a film that is the fruit of collaboration between writer and producer Michal Birnbaum and producer Lorena Rodriguez, who met in theatre school and continued to work together after graduating.
“The way we see it, – they explained – it is a big sacrifice on their part to stand on the streets of Brooklyn and seek work in order to put food on their table. This, once again, shows the length that women are willing to go to, to protect and provide for their loved ones”,
An interesting feature is that the majority of professionals involved in the project are women, including director Tamar Glezerman and cinematographer Meg Kettell.
This is because producers and director “strongly believe that women should have a greater presence in the film industry” and we are proud to promote this purpose. One of the reasons we got more than two hundred people to support our Kickstarter campaign was thanks to our commitment to hire women for most of the production positions”.
Indeed this financial support made the film possible. And among the contributors was the Latin Grammy award winning band Mariachi Flor De Toloache. The film also got a production grant from Panavision.
In this short film, the different characters speak English, Spanish and Yiddish, and the filming itself took place in different Brooklyn neighbourhoods, including Williamsburg, Park Slope and Bushwick.
But not everybody feels comfortable with the short film. In fact, according to their words, some people in the Jewish community feel that “Division Ave” “is misrepresenting the reality in Williamsburg and that the film is making all Jews look bad”.
But the directors say that this issue must be openly discussed openly, something they think will be fine as some of them in the production are Jewish themselves.
In addition – they say – the film tells the story of an inner conflict in the Jewish community as some members do want to see change in the way domestic workers are treated.
More information about the film: firstname.lastname@example.org – divisionavefilm.com
(Information & photos provided by Division Ave PR)