Many Hamilton neighbourhoods have seen a gradual facelift in the last few years, but the “new” Hamilton still has many communities, particular in the East end of the city, that are being left behind. After a recent shooting in the Kenilworth Avenue community, filmmaker Alex Djordjevic who lives in the area decided to take action, and is now in the process of filming his documentary Kenilworth highlighting the story of the east end street and the challenges facing this long-neglected community.
Djordjevic devised the now fully-funded Kickstarter campaign after a former Hell’s Angel biker gang member was shot right outside the salon his girlfriend owns on Kenilworth.
“My girlfriend has been there for seven years. Our last and final straw was when the shooting happened,” Djordjevic said.
Yet even before this shooting, east-end communities like Kenilworth were synonymous with troublesome landlords, crime, poverty, and high vacancy rates. These highly visible problems have been well known across Hamilton, often giving these areas a negative reputation in the more upscale areas of the city. This project will mark one of the first times this has ever been acknowledged in the form of a documentary film.
The short documentary will explore the problems facing a neighbourhood that Djordjevic believes to be at its lowest point in all the years he spent as a community member. The film aims to raise awareness and advocate for change in the community by exploring the lives of a diverse set of residents and business owners. Kenilworth is a community that needs economic revitalization, but is still sensitive to gentrification.
“I really want it to be very inclusive and resemble many different perspectives: the residences, the business owners, the governing body of Hamilton… I want it to be very inclusive by asking a lot of questions to a lot of people,” he said.
Djordjevic is keeping many of the details under wraps, but did note that he is preparing for an interview with outgoing Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina.
The documentary raised $601, exceeding its original $500 goal in just under a month, and is slated for a release early next year. Djordjevic is hoping that the film will be screened throughout the city, including at the Westdale Theatre.
“This is a Hamilton project, and I want it to be for Hamiltonians, by Hamiltonians.”