IN RECENT YEARS, the massive Queensbridge housing project in Long Island City has been getting a bad rap, and filmmaker Selena Blake wants to set the record straight in her documentary about the city-run development. The Jamaica-born filmmaker has a short wish list for the video project, which includes the $200,000 needed to finish the work. When completed in 1939, the Queensbridge Houses gained instant notoriety because of its sprawling size and role as a showcase for affordable public housing in the U.S. A
host of notables have called the project home. And Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia would regularly visit when his sister lived there. But Blake noted that the complex also has been the birthplace of hopes and dreams for thousands of its not-so-famous residents. “When I first moved to Queensbridge, I hated it,” said Blake, whose family moved from an East Elmhurst house to the housing project and apartment living. But over the years, she grew to appreciate the place, its past, its people and its possibilities. “My whole passion for doing this is for the young folks to realize what they have. There are so many amazing stories,” said the model-actress, who has been working 12- to 16-hour days and extra jobs to help pay for the project. Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens), hip-hop star Nas, NBA player Ron Artest, state Supreme Court Justice Carol Robinson Edmead, actor Mel Johnson and Mark Samowitz of Broadway Stages sound stage are among the Queensbridge notables in the movie. But the documentary also highlights subjects such as Dirty, a once-homeless man who became a respected funeral director, and a 20-year-old Queensbridge resident who lost his job when he took time off to donate a kidney to his mother. Since starting last year, Blake has amassed $30,000 in credit-card debt and loans, but has collected nearly 40 hours of interviews and footage for the documentary, which will be produced in high-tech, high-definition format. She’s getting technical support from Queens-born Gregory Larkin, a producer and director at the Broadway Stages facility. But her devotion to the Queensbridge residents – especially the young people who live there – is keeping her inspired despite the financial hardships. “You’ve got to help in your backyard,” she explained. “I feel God has given me a job. It’s something I have to do – help the people of Queensbridge.
” Blake’s wish list also includes an interview with Nas, help from the Queens Historical Society and Queens Public Library and the establishment of a community center for area youngsters and adults. For information on the documentary project, call (718) 472-1553 or send E-mail to maynovproductions@msn.
com. Reception for athletic boosters Team Jamaica Bickle – the hospitality initiative for Jamaican athletes attending the Penn Relays track meet – is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Organization founder Irwine Clare said a fund-raising reception to honor longtime corporate sponsors will be held at the Jamaican Consulate in Manhattan Friday. This year’s Penn Relays will be held April 28, 29 and 30 at University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field. For information on joining Team Jamaica Bickle as a sponsor or volunteer, call (718) 523-2861. For Penn Relays information, visit www.thepennrelays.com.
One-woman show “CaribBeing,” Tessa Martin’s one-woman show of satirical sketches featuring characters from Caribbean countries, will be performed at TBG Arts Center, 312 W. 36th St. (between Eighth and Ninth Aves.), on April 22 and 29, presented by Production House 1439. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting www.smarttix.com
or calling (212) 868-4444. For show information, send E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fiesta for new Afro-Latin CD Putumayo World Music creates hot CD compilations – like its new “Afro-Latin Party” – and holds great parties, like the affair for the CD’s release held at the Latin Quarter recently. The affair featured live music from Chico Alvarez and Palomonte. The 10-track CD has music ranging from African salsa to Cuban son. Visit www.putumayo.com.
Soca fusion project debuts The trendy Mission on the Bowery in Manhattan was a proper location for Article One Production’s recent CD release party for its vogue soca fusion project. Due at the end of the month, the compilation features the single remix “Let Me Love You,” featuring Screechy Dan. ‘Freedom Blues’ tops charts The stars are shining over at VP Records and the label is touting “Freedom Blues,” the latest from Jah Cure, and the compilation CD “Universal Message Vol. 3” among its top-selling albums. Jah Cure’s best-seller “Freedom Blues” is in the No. 1 slot, and the 18-track “Universal Message Vol. 3” – featuring Sizzla, Luciano, Anthony B and others – is fifth on the list. For the complete list and other VP CDs, visit www.vprecords.com.
Fund-raiser for gospel church The Gospel Assembly in Queens will hold a fund-raiser for its building fund today from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the church, 140-17 243rd St. at Memphis Ave. in Rosedale. There will be special performances and refreshments. The donation is $25 for adults and $10 for children. Call (917) 868-7032 ot (347) 531-7642 for information. email@example.com
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