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Alice Street Movie: “Art can work as a tool for grassroots activism”

Alice Street Movie: “Art can work as a tool for grassroots activism”

In a rapidly gentrifying city, the construction of a luxury condominium threatens a local mural forcing the artists and a neighborhood to rally to protect its history, voice, and land.


The movie depicts an artist-led organization in their effort to change citywide policy to include the voices of artists and the community in city conversations about development and transition in future of Oakland.

Two Oakland artists, Pancho Peskador, a Chilean studio painter, and Desi Mundo, a Chicago-born aerosol artist, form an unlikely partnership to tackle their most ambitious project to date, a four-story mural in the heart of downtown Oakland. Their site is situated at a unique intersection where Chinese and Afro-Diasporic communities face the imminent threat of displacement and gentrification.

Prior to painting, the mural faces numerous obstacles: complex negotiations with profit-minded property owners, satisfying a community of diverse residents, and resolving the artists’ own aesthetic conflicts.

As the mural takes shape on the wall, Oakland’s unique cultural legacies come to life through historical flashbacks. Past exclusionary policies replay themselves in the present as gentrification threatens to uproot long-term residents. The mural is fraught with its own challenges. A disgruntled neighborhood resident launches a vendetta against the artists, unleashing a blizzard of letters to city officials and newspapers. Simultaneously, the property owner of the mural site schemes to demolish it and construct the city’s largest luxury condo. Nonetheless, Desi and Pancho conclude the mural with great fanfare and a vibrant celebration.

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Three months later, news comes that another forthcoming condominium development will obscure the mural, which has become a source of neighborhood pride. Despite last-ditch opposition to the condominium, it receives city approval, effectively dooming the mural. Meanwhile, the city unveils its urban planning process for the downtown district. Ultimately displaced, the mural becomes a spark for the community to rally to protect cultural arts, and coalescing the community resistance to gentrification.

08 September 2021, Live Screening at Meeting of Styles Germany
Murnau Stiftung, Schlachthof Wiesbaden

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