Hope and Despair

The impact of Kevin Epps’ 2003 documentary Straight Outta Hunters Point runs so deep in the neighborhood where it was filmed, kids who have never met the director have the title of his film tattooed on their arms and backs. Its long-anticipated sequel, Straight Outta Hunters Point 2, shows a shade less overt violence than the original, which kickstarted a nationwide trend toward harrowing hood videos. But it is no less chilling in its exploration of the deep and systemic issues that continue to plague the neighborhood and its residents. These include gut-wrenchingly low high school graduation rates, and a palette of ailments — such as asthma and cancer — that some attribute to the hazardous waste from a PG&E power plant and the contaminated vestiges of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Even as the issues have escalated and seem more painfully deep, there are flickers of hope that make this a compelling view. Progressing from the original, Epps provides a more balanced look at genders and generations, as well as avenues that members of the community have taken as an alternative to the streets. And with the insistent grab for land and development that’s currently powering through Bayview-Hunters Point, the film also provides a vital snapshot of the area and what it will soon no longer look like.
Feb. 24-March 8; March 9-11; March 13-15; March 17-18, 2012

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