Finance will bring itself down.” – Saskia Stassen

“The first sign that you’re going to have to leave your neighbourhood? It’s when vintage clothing shops show up.” Great quote to open your documentary with. What follows is more shocking that you’d ever thought possible. The housing crisis is a very serious problem. Not just in one specific country, but it’s a global epidemic.

Housing prices are skyrocketing in cities worldwide. Communities are being pushed out of their suburbs. Public service employees, such as police officers and firefighters can’t even afford living in the cities they are supposed to protect. In Frederik Gertten‘s ‘Push‘, we follow Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing. She travels around the world to figure out where the problem is coming from and how we, the public and governments, can solve it.

“But the problem goes beyond governments and gentrification”, as expert Saskia Sassen explains. Properties get sold overseas as investments – assets to play with. We meet a group of squatters, who have taken over a prime location bought by an ex-army general from Qatar back in 2003. The owner has never been here and so they decided to take “refuge” and will keep on doing so, until the government solves the housing problem, which is becoming worse each year. Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington, West London share their story on how horrible insurance companies have treated them. Months after the horrific tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives, they still haven’t received any settlement or new place to live in. The burned down building is now a physical representation of the displacement of their community. This is only the tip of the iceberg when realising how big the problem is on a global scale.

Farha carefully listens to each and every one of the stories she encounters at far ends of the globe. People getting threatened with lawsuits, because they don’t agree with rent going up every twelve months, or neighbourhoods claiming back their properties by buying them themselves, even if that means they will be paying them off for the rest of their lives. When Farha digs a little bit deeper, after a short visit to Stockholm, Sweden, she discovers a big corporate scheme that makes more money than all governments in the world combined. I mean, corporate greed – what’s new?

Gertten’s documentary is for at least two thirds interesting and raises bigger questions, but ‘Push’ never really pushes for change. The problems are on the table with potential solutions being discussed, but nothing concrete comes of it. This isn’t something that will get solved in the next decade, and maybe he could do a follow up on the subject someday. Nonetheless, an educational and important watch.

‘Push’ is screening as part of Antenna Documentary Film Festival:

  • Dendy Newtown, Oct. 27 at 4pm

Tickets are still available: https://tix.antennafestival.org/Events/Push/Sun-Oct-27-2019-16-00

Antenna Documentary Film Festival Review – ‘Push’

Reviewed from online screener provided by publicity team, screening as part of Antenna Documentary Film Festival, Sydney, Oct. 24, 2019. Running time: 92 min.

PRODUCTION: An WG Film production. Producer: Margarete Jangård. Executive producer: Fredrik Gertten. Co-producer: Laura Baron Kastner. Line producer: Elizabeth Benjamin.

CREW: Director, writer: Fredrik Gertten. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Janice D’Avila, Iris Ng. Editor: Erik Bäfving. Music: Florencia Di Concilio.

WITH: Leilani Farha, Saskia Sassen, Stig Westerdahl, Joseph Stiglitz, Frederik Jurdell, Florian Schmidt, Roberto Saviano, Ada Colau, Michael Muller, Leila Bozony.

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