Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki, US, HD, color, 80 min. (2010)
A sprawling industrial zone comprised of numerous junkyards and auto salvage shops, the area in Queens, New York called Willets Point is a crevice of decayed America far from first-world affluence, even if, geographically, that First World is located literally only metres away: the area is currently slated for demolition to create a “tourist zone” next to the baseball New York Mets’ new stadium. This is a minority world of recycled refuse, where both the used cars and the system itself are in states of rusted disrepair.
Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki’s observational work of salvage anthropology gives a face to both the amazingly photogenic neighbourhood (earlier given life onscreen in Rahman Bahrani’s fictional Chop Shop) and its colourful community, for a large part comprised of Puerto Rican immigrants, homeless men and women, and runaways barely managing to scrape by. Shot on and off over three years, through scalding summers and frigid winters, the eye-opening Foreign Parts deserves to stand alongside the best of Wiseman in its attention to the daily functioning of a societal substratum, and the keen manner by which its directors dissect a sharp world of indelible sights and sounds.
– Mark Perenson.
Foreign Parts had its world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival, where it was awarded both the Best First Feature award and the CINE CINEMA Special Jury Prize. The New York Film Festival hosted the US premiere, and since then it has gone on to screen at festivals and venues around the world, including the San Francisco Film Festival, the VIENNALE, Punto de Vista, the MOMA, the Mexico City International Film Festival, Cinema du Reel, BAFICI, and Festival dei Popoli, where it won the Best Ethno-Anthropological Film award.