International competition

This Side of History

John Hulsey

2019United States28 minColour

This Side of History is a meditation on home, deracination, and belonging. Moving through the landscape of Los Angeles under redevelopment and interweaving disparate narrative fragments, the film peers at history as reflections in a pane of glass. Looming cranes presage displacement. Images of familial pasts illuminate the corners of an empty house. The film accompanies the filmmaker as he attempts to unravel the enigma of his mother, whose family emigrated to Los Angeles from Russia in the early 20th century. In the process, it follows the ruminations of his friend, activist-historian Shmuel Gonzalez, as he reflects on the history of Boyle Heights, a neighborhood that has been home to immigrants and refugees for the past hundred years. What, the film asks, does it mean to feel connected to a place? What causes one to leave while another struggles to remain? In the early 20th century, Boyle Heights (“the Ellis Island of the West”) was home to Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe, many of whom fought the US government’s restrictive immigration policies following Hitler’s rise to power. Since WWII, it has been a center of Mexican-American life. Today it is undergoing rapid redevelopment and faces a new crisis of place. This Side of History navigates the divergent fates of the neighborhood, reflecting on what has changed and what has stayed the same, contemplating the conditions for experience in a moment of violent transition.

John Hulsey is an artist and filmmaker. He received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California Los Angeles and a maîtrise in Cinema from the University of Paris-III Sorbonne Nouvelle. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Film and Visual Studies at Harvard University. His work has been shown internationally in venues such as the U.S. Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennial, The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard. This Side of History is his first film. 

  • PRODUCTION : John Hulsey