Local filmmakers have a unique opportunity to capture the essence of the Bronx, New York, and to bring attention to important issues that need to be addressed. Since the 1940s, filmmakers have taken advantage of the city's extraordinary urban landscape, with its bustling streets, towering skyscrapers, elevated subway lines, and suspension bridges. This has allowed them to create a dynamic and constantly evolving portrait of the city's physical landscape, cultural richness, and social complexity. In the years after World War II, a handful of pioneering Hollywood filmmakers began shooting movie scenes and full-length movies at locations in New York City.
This was made possible by technical improvements in cameras, cinematographic equipment and lighting and sound equipment, as well as the changing tastes of the public who sought a greater degree of realism after exposure to war news and documentaries and post-war neorealist films in Europe. The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) Films scholarship program was created to help expand the portfolio of traditionally underrepresented Bronx documentalists who are dedicated to the cinematographic profession and to enable them to obtain employment in the creative industries. The program invites traditionally underrepresented documentary filmmakers to participate in a free one-year scholarship to make documentaries at the BDC. As shooting in New York became increasingly popular thanks to the efforts of the Mayor's Office of Film, improvements in technology and logistics, the creative aspirations of directors, and the public's preferences for shooting on location became a regular part of the urban landscape.
Low-budget, independently funded feature films provided an invaluable avenue for talent raised in the city. By being attentive to alternative ways of making films, from Italian neorealism and the French New Wave to pioneering cinema-verité documentaries made in and around New York, these independent filmmakers recognized that the city itself could serve as an economic but visually appealing set. As New York entered the new century, the extraordinary interaction between capitalism, democracy, and transformation reached its climax. Local filmmakers have an important role to play in creating documentaries about the Bronx, New York. They can highlight an important need and increase the volume of voices calling for change.
By capturing images that reveal how technology has advanced, how creative aspirations have been achieved, how innovative government agencies have contributed, and how global appeal has been maintained, local filmmakers can create a dynamic portrait of this vibrant city.