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Gentrification a word that gets thrown around a lot in Los Angeles. Neighborhoods that had character a cool cultural vibe is being replaced with sleek modern shops, pricey high rise condos, and some empty looking apartment buildings.  So when I sat down to watch PUSH, it was indeed an eye-opener to realize that it is a global phenomenon. Before Covid-19 rents have been skyrocketing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and many other cities. Los Angelenos have had to move outside Los Angles for reasonably priced home. The housing crisis was like living in a bad horror movie with the landlords increasing prices and developers pushing the local residents out of their neighborhoods. 

In the award-winning film PUSH director, Fredrik Gerten brings the discussion to the public peeling off the layers on corporate greed from international cities like Barcelona to Berlin to Paris to London and more.  As well as Toronto to New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

The film follows strong-minded journalist Leilani Farha the United Nations Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as she travels from city to city around the world calling attention to the global problem of unaffordable/inadequate housing and trying to help cities find solutions. With Covid-19 causing a global shutdown the spotlight shines brightly on the state of affordable housing in cities around the globe for millions of individuals trying to make ends meet. It goes beyond gentrification, its an unseen landlord that people can’t track down and one that does not provide tenants with adequate answers. It is heartbreaking hearing the stories of families, single parents,single men and women trying to survive and stay in their homes. 

As Leilani travels across the country and the globe she listens to the stories in dismay and disbelief.  She strives to understand who is being pushed out of their cities and why?  In her words, “I believe there’s a huge difference between housing as a commodity and gold as a commodity. Gold is not a human right, housing is”.

 It becomes clear that greed is the driving force behind these corporations that buy up properties for investment purposes with little regard for human life. With the cost of living high and wages low, many will be unable to occupy the place they have to come to love with the fear of homelessness hovering over them like a dark cloud. As she continues her quest for answers all roads lead to the Blackstone Group a leading global investment business investing capital on behalf of pension funds, large institutions, and individuals. And as it is stated on their website “By promoting sustainability across our portfolio, prioritizing our people and practicing good governance, we’re able to have a positive impact on our companies and our communities.” It must be noted that Leilani Fraha reached out to Blackstone for a meeting which they canceled.

Along with speaking to the diverse group of individuals PUSH also includes interviews and participation from thought leaders including Saskia Sassen, Joseph Stiglitz, and Robert Saviano. PUSH is a must-see documentary for 2020 an ominous reminder of something that may happen in your neighborhood.


PUSH is my journey to understand why life in our cities is getting so unaffordable. For two years I filmed with Leilani Farha, we had daily Whatsapp chats discussing the issue. Early on it was clear that we were lacking a language to describe the ongoing development. Words like gentrification are not sharp enough at describing the issue. It’s a global disease when homes are turned into assets in a financial game. The gentrification talk creates a divide. Blaming a hip coffee shop or an art gallery for pushing out the poor is just silly. There are other – much stronger forces in action. If citizens and politicians want to push back the invasion of speculative money from hedge funds and criminals. we need a deeper understanding.

My hope is that PUSH will form a platform for better conversation. That people in countries around the world realize that the development in their town is not unique. There’s a global pattern, a business model repeated over and over again. A new kind of landlord, a hedge fund whose customers are not the tenants but the investors. PUSH is now out on a global journey, at cinemas and festivals. Everywhere, I meet people who through the film now feel less lonely. Just more angry. 




New York, NY September 25-October 8, 2020 Anthology Film Archives **Part of the series, “Home Truths: Films About Housing Rights, Displacement, and the Meaning of Home”!

San Francisco, CA
September 25-October 8, 2020
Roxie Theater

Berkeley, CA
September 25-October 8, 2020
Rialto Cinemas Elmwood 

Sebastopol, CA
September 25-October 8, 2020
Rialto Cinemas Sebastopol

Los Angeles, CA
September 25-October 8, 2020
Laemmle Theatres

Santa Fe, NM
September 25-October 8, 2020
Violet Crown

Austin, TX
September 25-October 8, 2020
Violet Crown

Charlottesville, VA
September 25-October 8, 2020
Violet Crown

Columbus, OH
September 25-October 8, 2020
Gateway Film Center

Chicago, IL
October 2-15, 2020
Music Box Theatre  

Minneapolis, MN
October 22-31, 2020
Twin Cities Film Festival


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