Artist Films a Farewell to Fort Greene

April 28, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — “I call it black history with a smile,” said the author and filmmaker Nelson George recently over beverages at a muffin shop in Fort Greene. “Everyone who came here found their artistic voice and became a success.”  Mr. George means “here” literally. Fort Greene, the Brooklyn neighborhood he has called home for nearly 26 years, is the subject of his latest project, a two-hour documentary called “Brooklyn Boheme.” The film, which was co-directed by Diane Paragas and funded in part via donations through the entrepreneurial web site Kickstarter, is currently in the post-production phase. It explores a brief window in the neighborhood’s history, from the mid-1980s through recent years, during which time it hosted a remarkable assemblage of African-American and Hispanic actors, writers, filmmakers, poets and musicians as they transformed from aspiring artists into stars.  For Mr. George—who, if prompted, will rattle off the various addresses he’s lived in the neighborhood—the film represents a swan song of sorts. When he’s finished making “Brooklyn Boheme,” he will leave Fort Greene, which he says is no longer the neighborhood he came to love in the 1980s. “I think all of us benefited from our time in the community,” he said. “It was a place where ambitious young people found themselves and laughed a lot.”

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