Monday, May 9, 2011

French Filmmaker Producing Film about Opa Locka, Florida

I've written before (check Labels on the sidebar for "urban spaces" or "opa locka") about the city of Opa Locka, Florida, USA.  It is an economically depressed urban area with a history interestingly related to the Nights, several government buildings are built in "Eastern" styles and many of the streets have Nights-related names.

Now a film is being made about the city by French filmmaker Armand Morin.

I've quoted from The Miami Herald below.  Complete Article link is here:

"The documentary is expected to be released in June and is scheduled to appear in the Panorama 13 film festival in the northern French city of Lille. The city will receive free copies by June 2011 and will schedule a screening."

French filmmaker producing documentary about two sides of Opa-locka

By Ines Mato

Special to The Miami Herald


"Opa-locka’s Moorish architecture evokes tales of the Arabian Nights. But the neighborhoods surrounding the historic district reflect the harsh realities of residents who face unemployment and high crime rates.

This contrast was what drew Armand Morin, a French filmmaker, to direct Opa-locka Will Be Beautiful.

“I have been fascinated by two things: the history of this Moorish architecture and the fact that the community goes beyond this heritage and has to struggle with everyday challenges,” Morin said.
Through the voices of Opa-locka leaders and residents, the 30-minute documentary produced by Le Fresnoy connects the Arabian-themed roots of the city with the urban society of the present time.

In the first scene, a voiceover narrates how aviation pioneer and 1920s developer Glenn Curtiss founded the city inspired by the Arabian Nights. Following Curtiss’ fantasy, architect Bernard Muller designed buildings and houses that resembled the Arabian architectural style. According to University of Miami architecture teacher Jean-Francois Lejeune, the Opa-locka City Hall was once the center for Arabic festivals.

Lejeune also explains that Opa-locka was first built as a leisure place. The city featured a golf course, a zoo and a swimming pool. However, through the years, Opa-locka began to lose its leisure spaces and became a more urbanized place.

Now, far from the Arabian fantasy, Morin found a society that struggles with a rough economy and high crime rates.

"The city has a problem with crime and drugs. I think this is a problem of education and professional opportunities for the people," Morin said.

Even though the Arabian dream died a long time ago, the desire for change is still in the residents’ minds, especially in Opa-locka Community Development Corporation CEO Willie Logan’s mind, Morin said.

"You can see that this idea of having a vision for the city has always been very important. From Glenn Curtiss’ Arabian fantasy to Logan’s more pragmatic plan," Morin said.

Morin said that Logan intends to preserve the history, industry and architecture of the city, while at the same time improving the neighborhoods’ facades."

1 comment:

  1. I guess you could say in a way that is it "Not Arabian Nights"