High school students explore DC gentrification in new short film

Efforts to build more housing and create new opportunities across D.C. have led to renewed conversations around gentrification and its impact on residents.

A group of students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts have created a film highlighting the experiences of those living and working on Kennedy Street in Northwest.

“Kennedy Street is such a beautiful street, the community that we have is very strong,” said Maddy Waldman, a sophomore at Duke Ellington and the film’s director.

“I wanted to tell one part of the larger story of gentrification through Kennedy Street,” she added.

Waldman worked alongside her classmates John Monaco, Maya Ray and Jameela Ayoub.

The 5-minute film was one of 50 submissions to the D.C. Independent Film Forum, which featured other high school projects.

From barber shops and corner stores, to local events, Maddy and her team spent time speaking with residents in the neighborhood, getting their take on what gentrification means to them. She said the conversations revealed different views on how the area has changed.

“More people than I expected were not as angry about it,” she said. “A lot of people would say it has its benefits, and its downfalls.”

Maddy hopes viewers are informed and impacted by the stories, while being open to understand the many impacts of gentrification, “and I want people to feel something, I want them to empathize with the people being interviewed.”

Maddy seeks to expand on Kennedy Street in the future and possibly do a film on the entire city.

You can find out more about the festival online.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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