In 1989, together with a group of female friends, Su Friedrich rented and renovated an old loft in Williamsburg, an unassuming working-class district of Brooklyn. In 2005 this former industrial zone was designated a residential area and the factories, manufacturers and artists’ lofts were priced out by property speculators lured by tax breaks. Friedrich spent five years documenting with her camera the changes in the area between East River and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. She shows the demolition of industrial buildings and the construction of trendy new apartments for wealthy clients, watching old tenants leave and new inhabitants arrive. As she keeps meticulous record of developments, the extent and speed of the upheaval becomes clear. Her own tenancy agreement expires too and so her documentary images and trenchant commentary become the tools of her growing anger.
“Su Friedrich… has made the most salient and personal film about Brooklyn’s ever-changing face since Hal Ashby’s The Landlord appeared in theaters some 43 years ago. Gut Renovation is bound to polarize audiences. It’s a polemical howl in the night, a desperately angry and sidesplittingly funny look at one oh-so-mythologized neighborhood’s transformation… a film essay that is of a piece with the work of heady French names like Godard and Varda.”
—Brandon Harris, FILMMAKER MAGAZINE