Executive Produced by Lucy Liu and featuring music tracks from Run the Jewels
A searing expose of the growing affordable housing crisis in America, this intimate documentary focuses on one of the country's most iconic and income divided zip codes. Once a mecca for artists, outsiders, and a thriving Black community, Venice is now the frontline for America's heated battles over gentrification, lack of affordable housing, and homelessness.
Featuring interviews with leading politicians, local stakeholders, homeless advocates, and experts on all sides of these issues, the film digs into the myriad root causes of the affordable housing crisis and its intersection with rising income inequality, racial and class disparities, and the structural inequities of America's housing policies. With personal profiles of several families who struggle to remain
in their neighborhood, to bitterly contested community fights over a
proposed homeless shelter, UNZIPPED subverts stereotypes and
humanizes the lived experiences of people caught in the crossfire of
America's growing housing divide. Also woven throughout the film is the history of Venice, from its founding, past decline thanks to oil derricks, eventual cultural cachet, and present day housing inequalities.
A moving snapshot of a community that offers a representative example of a phenomenon being experienced in cities across the country and around the world, UNZIPPED offers a topical lens on this alarming humanitarian issue, and serves as an urgent call to action for more equitable housing solutions for every community.
- Eric Garcetti, former Mayor of Los Angeles
- Mike Bonin, former 11th District Councilmember
- Ananya Roy, PhD, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA
- Va Lecia Adams Kellum, PhD, St Joseph Center, CEO
- Becky Dennison, Venice Community Housing, Executive Director
- Mark Ridley-Thomas, California Homeless Task Force, Co-Chair
- Elizbeth Benson Forer, Venice Family Clinic, CEO
FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "Over four years ago, we decided to make a film about the lived experience of people struggling to survive in the most prosperous country in the world. We wanted to humanize the abstract statistics and divisive rhetoric about systemic inequality and America's escalating affordable housing crisis.
We decided to focus on one zip code, and several families, on the front lines of America's housing divide. Our search took us to our own backyard, iconic Venice CA 90291. The personal stakes and heartbreaking storylines of the families we found to profile in our film surprised us ever step of the way as we embarked on a two year filming journey. The stories that unfold in our film are just a microcosm of the issues afflicting America on a national scale and the structural inequity that the country's housing and healthcare systems are built on. Racist systems that have pushed far too many to the brink of survival.
Our film couldn't be more topical or timely. Our goal is to catalyze debate and action to provide more equitable housing solutions for every zip code in America and beyond. On a personal note, I am drawn to this urgent issue for several reasons. This matters to me. Social mobility, good education, and access to affordable housing matter, whatever the circumstances of your birth. Building more diverse and equitable communities matter, whatever zip code you live in.
And this is why we've made UNZIPPED. By going micro and focusing on a few family story lines, we believe the larger topics we're exploring around systemic inequality and the affordable housing crisis are even more powerful and universal. It's not just about equal opportunity, it's about equal access to basic human living conditions. Our hope is that UNZIPPED can now play a part in the growing national and international movement to enshrine housing as a fundamental human right."
— Colin K. Gray