We have four DVDs of this movie to randomly giveaway to commenters below, so if you'd like to win one, make sure to say something before midnight on Friday, January 16, 2009.*
Finally! A full-length feature for all us green building junkies! The Greening of Southie is an award-winning film that documents the journey of a green condo building from the idea of a legacy Boston developer all the way to the jungles of Bolivia, from the steel mills of New England to LEED Gold certification. The Macallen Building Condominiums, a sexy piece of contemporary architecture on the border of Boston and South Boston, was completed in 2007 by a committed team of builders. They submitted their process to scrutiny via the cameras of budding filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis of Wicked Delicate Films.
The film captures the birth of the Macallen Building as elegantly as anyone can with footage diverse enough to include dirt-caked construction workers and LEED documentation binders. It’s actually a really beautiful film, with tons of time-lapse shots set against the Boston skyline and close-ups of the materials.
The filmmakers really focused on the stories of the people who made the building possible, interviewing a lot of different participants. Particularly, they followed a couple characters throughout: the developer, a construction worker, a project manager, and a future owner. You may enjoy some of the initial reactions of the union guys on the ground: "A green building is one in which everything in it is recycled" … "Dual flush? Yeah, I flush twice all the time!" … "At first I thought that meant that we were painting it green."
Their changing attitudes toward the project, increased understanding of what green means, and eventual collective pride in working on a green building becomes a metaphor for the shift taking place in the entire construction industry. But the best part of the film was watching the pieces of the puzzle come together. The audience gets to see a Bolivian sitting on a tree stump, explaining that all the trees around that one will be left alone – and a steel mill owner, who explains that an ’88 Saab has a good chance of getting into the beams that will hold up the Macallen – and the toilet installer, who describes the dual-flush concept. Also appreciated is the filmmaker’s honesty.
Towards the end, the builders run into problems with the expanding wheatboard cabinets and the no-VOC adhesive that doesn’t adhere (whoops…). Shots of torn up bamboo flooring and statements on the amount of fossil fuel that goes into shipping materials remind us of the challenges and trade-offs that builders in the field grapple with. All in all, really well done, and very entertaining for those of us glued to the green building scene. Check out more on The Greening of Southie here.
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