OWNED: A TALE OF TWO AMERICAS
Directed by Giorgio Angelini
2018, 83 minutes
Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125
“Home ownership to me means freedom—strictly. When you don’t own anything, you are nothing.” Owned: A Tale of Two Americas is a fever dream vision into the dark history behind the US housing economy. Revealing the roots of its racist underpinnings and the systematic unequal division of opportunity between whites and blacks in the U.S. housing economy, Owned demonstrates how racial inequality was institutionalized in the postwar U.S. housing market, with effects that continue to reverberate today.
The United States’ postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class. After World War II, the US government sought to provide housing for returning veterans and their families, while enabling them to build wealth through homeownership. Postwar policies spurred a decades-long construction boom and enabled millions of Americans to buy homes. But not all citizens were given this opportunity. Government policies directly subsidized white America, while denying opportunities to black people and other minorities, setting America on two divergent paths–one of imagined wealth, propped up by speculation, and the other in systematically defunded and segregated communities where “the American dream” feels out of reach.
In 2008, the US housing market became the epicenter of an unprecedented global economic collapse. Cities like Baltimore have highlighted the stark racial disparities that define many American cities. Owned demonstrates that the crash of suburbia and urban unrest are not unrelated, but both stem from the systematic unequal division of opportunity set into motion by postwar housing policies.
Through the stories of a retired New York City cop, an eccentric Orange County realtor, an aspiring “house flipper” in the black neighborhoods of Baltimore, and an interracial couple living in the mid-century modern utopian community of Mar Vista, California, the tangled legacy of middle-class homeownership in America is unwound, revealing how the conception of the American Dream came to be a reality for some, but not others.
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & AwardsOFFICIAL SELECTION - Full Frame Documentary Festival 2018
Owned reveals the unwinding of the social contract that has bound American citizenship to home ownership and in so doing, exposes how the terms of that social contract were only made available to white Americans. The financial crisis of 2008 brought assumptions of perpetual growth to an abrupt halt, shining light on the fiscal, racial, and social ravages wrought by monocultural, short-sighted, large-scale development across this nation. The film deftly weaves personal stories sited in Baltimore, Levittown, Southern California, and rural Minnesota, with expert voices academics, architects, community activists, economists, engineers, journalists, and realtors - and historical footage, ranging from sit-coms, commercials, and presidential addresses. It leaves you with no easy answers but instead with a powerful understanding of the nightmare underlying the American dream.
- Sarah Whiting - Dean of the Rice School of Architecture
A documentary that uses the rat to explore the complicated history of Baltimore and how racial segregation, redlining, and environmental racism built the American city we see today.
CITY OF TREES
A complex tale of social justice, urban forestry and community politics, City of Trees portrays the struggles of a DC non-profit to challenge the cycle of poverty and violence in blighted urban areas by implementing an ambitious "green jobs" program that hires 150 unemployed residents to plant trees in underserved parks.