Decade of Fire

Uncover a story of injustice, survival and hope that is vital for communities on the brink today.

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Gretchen Hildebran

Gretchen Hildebran (Director/Producer) is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose credits include Worth Saving (2004), which was presented in HBO’s Frame by Frame showcase and Out In The Heartland (2005), which explored anti-gay legislation in Kentucky. A 2005 graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Gretchen shot Ramona Diaz’s The Learning Show more (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS NewsHour, the United Nations Development Programme, and contributed editing to independent documentaries such as Ask The Sexpert (2017). For the last ten years, Gretchen has also made numerous short documentaries that educate communities across the country about life-saving interventions for drug users, such as needle exchange and overdose prevention. Show less

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Vivian Vazquez

Vivian Vazquez (Director/Producer) has worked in the youth development and education field for over two decades. She has managed after school programs for children ages six through twelve, GED completion and college access programs for youth across New York City. She is currently the director of community-school partnerships at the New Settlement Show more Community Campus in the Bronx. A former member of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, she belongs to 52 People for Progress, a community organization that saved her childhood playground and revitalized the South Bronx for the last 35 years. Show less

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Julia Steele Allen

(Producer and Engagement Producer) is an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist and a community organizer from New York City. She worked for ten years on educational justice campaigns in District 9 in the South Bronx. Since 2014, she has been touring her play, Mariposa & the Saint: From Solitary Confinement, A Play Through Letters performing for Show more judges, wardens, corrections officials, legislators, as well as thousands of students, faith-based communities, formerly incarcerated people and their families, as part of the growing movement to end solitary confinement in this country. She is the Co-Chair of CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments) Solidarity Board; a Bronx tenants’ rights and housing justice organization. Show less

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Neyda Martinez

Neyda Martinez (Producer) is the communications strategist for public television’s documentary series, America Reframed. For 7 years, Neyda worked at POV supporting campaigns of over 65 acclaimed films. She earned an MPA from Columbia University in 2008. She was Director of National Engagement for PBS’ documentary, and she produced the documentary film Show more Lucky. As a consultant, she’s served Hachette Book Group USA, NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Adult Education, and WNYC and NPR’s The Takeaway. She is on the board of directors of The Association of American Cultures, Women Make Movies and Bronx-based dance company, Pepatian. Prior board service includes of Third World Newsreel and NALIP/National Association of Latino Independent Producers. Show less

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The Film

In the 1970s, miles of crowded South Bronx neighborhoods were reduced to vacant shells and fields of rubble. Forty fires a night for ten years eventually destroyed 80% of the housing and displaced half a million people. Vivian Vazquez grew up in the time of the fires, watching her tight-knit community become a burned-out ruin. Years of government machinations and regressive social policies had transformed her once-thriving Black and Puerto Rican neighborhood into a slum. And as the Bronx began to burn, New York City made deep cuts to its fire protection. Soon the South Bronx had lost a dozen firehouses and entered into the worst fire epidemic in the nation’s history. But despite widespread abandonment, resistance was taking seed, as Vivian’s resilient, working-class neighbors fought together against seemingly insurmountable odds to save their neighborhoods. Their ethos: Stay, fight, build.
Photo Credit: William Sarokin