Nora Jacobson (pictured right) returned from Vermont to visit her old home in Hoboken and an intimate Q&A after a screening of her documentary "Delivered Vacant" to a packed house at Burchard Auditorium on the Stevens campus last night. It turned out to be an amazing reflection with even one of the film's characters, a well known Hoboken developer in attendance participating too.
The humor of the working class roots of Hoboken past is beautifully captured. The film harkens to a time in the mid to late 1980s, with politicians, citizen activists, and winners and losers in a deadly game where arson also played a part in properties delivered vacant for condo conversion. A friend who was in college during the time of the filming at Stevens described Hoboken in more blunt terms, "It was a hole" but from the characters in the movie, there's quite a bit of positive sentiment. A woman with a baby adds a stark dose of reality at a City Council meeting, describing being propositioned by a drug dealer adding a strong dose of realism to the romanticism.
The years later exchange of filmmaker and depicted developer is fascinating and captured here in the Q&A as well. Another point of interest is a filmgoer remarking no one was ever arrested for the clear cases of arson and the murderers never brought to justice. Nora Jacobson stated her hope someone would've stepped up to the plate on this as she did not feel safe doing so.
A remarkable film capturing a time in Hoboken's past and the resentments lingering today among the birthers. One woman speaks with a smile as she states the feelings of residents to the "newcomers" including the filmmaker - "We hate you." This movie captures a lot of the reasons why.
"Delivered Vacant" is available on DVD via Nora Jacobson's website.