Rockaway: Before and After

Directed by Jennifer Callahan

Running Time: 110
Country: U.S.
Language: English
Closed Captioned: Yes
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Directed by Jennifer Callahan

A pair of one-hour features on a single disc, Rockaway: Before and After chronicles the epic highs and epic lows of New York City's only oceanfront community. Film critic William Wolf calls both films, "a captivating double achievement."

Feature one: The Bungalows of Rockaway (2010, RT: 57 min)

A popular summer resort, a rival to Coney Island, once existed along the Rockaway shore, replete with wide beaches, a long boardwalk and honky-tonk amusements. The first bungalow went up in Rockaway in 1905; by 1933 over 7000 covered the peninsula. For decades, the bungalows were affordable summer rentals for working-class vacationers, largely Jewish and Irish immigrant families. Today fewer than 450 bungalows remain.

Narrated by Academy-Award-winning Estelle Parsons and completed in 2010, the film tracks the lifeline of the Rockaway bungalows. Sparkling, funny, and sometimes moving interviews with former bungalow residents bring the bungalow heyday to life; a trove of archival stills and unseen footage from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, such as that of the Marx Brothers and their families frolicking on Rockaway beaches, show viewers what a delightful and treasured summer experience Rockaway was for thousands of immigrant families.

Feature Two: Everything Is Different Now: Rockaway After The Storm (2015, RT: 53 min)

In October, 2012, Superstorm Sandy tore into New York and woke the city up to the fragility of its shorelines. Everything Is Different Now: Rockaway After the Storm documents the first summer and fall after the storm as the urban beach community re-builds, re-thinks, and re-invents.

Educational Reviews

The Bungalows of Rockaway

"The Bungalows of Rockaway is an arresting and important documentary. Jennifer Callahan uncovers a crucial aspect of working-class history and of New York City's built environment that teetered on the brink of erasure, while also telling a multi-layered story of community activists speaking truth to power as they organize to protect vernacular architecture in a neighborhood returning to life. Deftly connecting broad historical forces to local everyday events, this well-written and well-crafted film is a terrific resource for educators and for anyone interested in architecture and urbanism."

"Jennifer Callahan has made a wonderful contribution to the global history of the bungalow, rescuing both the history as well as the actual bungalows of Rockaway Island from under the shadows of New York's towering skyscrapers. This is a fascinating story of community resistance to the rapacious forces of development and will be of real interest to planners, architects, and urban activists of many kinds."

"Fun, informative and empowering. What a combo. This loving portrait of the vibrant bungalow community of Rockaway captures the history and challenge of preserving an American vernacular architectural form that made vacations affordable and memorable for a century to working people. No less poignant is the struggle to preserve remaining bungalows against the onslaught of developers and gentrifiers. New Yorkers will love this look at their famous Queens beach community, but the story of an American iconic form -- its legacy and the struggle to preserve it -- resonates as well with countless tales of destructive American urban 'development' and 'renewal.'"

Everything Is Different Now: Rockaway After The Storm

"A very subtle and intelligent piece of work. The tension between the progressively more threatening future and the conviction of those who call it home to remain was done very well because the film lets the two sides (not really opposites but distinct emphasis) make their own cases. Nothing heavy handed or intrusive. A superb piece of work.

"Everything Is Different Now is a very beautiful film that is both art and testimony."

Critical Acclaim

The Bungalows of Rockaway

"The Bungalows of Rockaway, the documentary by the gifted filmmaker Jennifer Callahan, is an incisive analysis of urban policy making, and at the same time a vivid and compassionate portrayal of the injustice that a city's misguided policies can play on the lives of its most impoverished citizens."

"The Bungalows of Rockaway is a fascinating and very interesting, unusual account."

"The Bungalows of Rockaway is perfect--very informative, intelligent and warm. It's part of a much larger story: what happened to working-class New York City? This is an exemplary job of filmmaking."


Everything Is Different Now: Rockaway After The Storm

"A valuable contribution to New Yorkiana and urbanism in general, this beautifully shot and intelligently balanced film charts the metamorphosis of neighborhood into community, thanks to natural disaster. We need more fine-grained studies like this and Frederick Wiseman's 'In Jackson Heights,' that take us into the life of a city and show us the dynamics of what one commentator here calls 'learning through adaptation.' "

"A celebration of how people in an area can cooperate to help recover from the damage done to their community."

"An important film on many levels...soundtrack [is] excellent."

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