Welcome to Fear City

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TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production

LOGLINE

NYC, 1975 - the greatest city in the world is minutes away from bankruptcy when an unlikely alliance of labor, finance and politics saves the city.

SYNOPSIS

Fear City charts untold history - NYC’s mid-70’s collapse into economic and social chaos, how it survived, and why it matters now. Opponents, not enemies, shared a common goal - rescuing 8 million citizens whose lives depended on the city. Together, they averted a global economic catastrophe.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

What's most remarkable about the Fiscal Crisis of 1975 is that it's very much an untold story, missing even from large-scale, seemingly definitive documentary histories of New York. It's astonishing just how few people know how close America's cultural and economic capitol came to dying. At a time when cities like Detroit and commonwealths like Puerto Rico are perched on similar cliffs, at a time when New York's mayor is at war with its governor, and at a time when our Congress has been stuck in gridlock for nearly a decade - this story of compromise and civic duty has never been more relevant. Visually, there is a vast amount of unseen news footage of this fight being taken to the street The grainy, jolting, 16mm film crackles with the energy of a '70s Scorsese film. The verite' clips of shouting matches between union members and management captures the tangible desperation, as the crumbling of Gotham was frighteningly real. This news footage, along with stills and moving images from the era, will be woven together with newly filmed talking head interviews, with the visual emphasis on stock footage from the past, and the interviews driving the story. In terms of narrative, the stakes of the film sound like the plot of a Hollywood disaster movie, with America's greatest city on the verge of collapse. Yet in many ways our points of reference are the fiercely realistic films of Sidney Lumet. The 'man on the street' tabloid intensity of Dog Day Afternoon. The back room politics of Serpico or Prince of the City. But ultimately, it's 12 Angry Men that captures the essence of the drama: people of wildly different backgrounds, with wildly different agendas, locked in rooms together in search of a seemingly impossible solution. The essence of ‘70s New York will permeate the film, heard in the hard-boiled voices, and the thick regional accents that still permeated the city. It will be in the graininess of the footage, contrasting the nearly black & white urban blight with the multi-colored graffiti. Potential subjects, some of whom we have already interviewed: President Jimmy Carter; Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live; Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank; Peter Goldmark, former Budget Director, State of NY; Donna Shalala, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; John McEnroe, tennis champion; Spike Lee, director; Woody Allen, director; Walt Frazier, NY Knicks; David Dinkins, former Mayor, NYC; Richard Ravitch, former chairman of NY State Urban Development Corporation; Fran Lebowitz, writer; Bette Midler, entertainer; Howard Rubenstein, PR legend; Gabe Pressman, former chief correspondent, WNEW News, NY; Martin Scorcese, director; Pete Hamill, Bard of NYC; Betsy Gotbaum, former NYC Public Advocate; Gay Talese, journalist; Bill DeBlasio, Mayor; Nick Pileggi, writer; Bruce Jay Friedman, writer - and many more, from screen and stage, board room and press room.

KEY CREW

Peter Yost - director
Multiple-Emmy nominated filmmaker Peter Yost is the principal of Pangloss Films in Brooklyn. A longtime New Yorker, Peter has produced dozens of long format projects for PBS and other major broadcasters. His most recent projects include RISE OF THE DRONES (promoted at TCA, highlighted on Jon Stewart etc.) and INVISIBLE UNIVERSE REVEALED, a high-rating special celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Rachael Horovitz - producer
Oscar-nominated producer Rachael Horovitz has worked with such filmmakers as Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Alexander Payne. Her films have won top prizes including Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG and PGA awards for HBO’s GREY GARDENS. She was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award for MONEYBALL, directed by Bennett Miller. Among her many producing credits are Payne’s ABOUT SCHMIDT, David Mamet’s STATE AND MAIN, the documentary FINAL CUT based on Steven Bach's memoir about the making of Heaven's Gate, and the upcoming MAGGIE’S PLAN, directed by Rebecca Miller. She is currently working on two limited series for television, THE PATRIARCH with director David O. Russell at HBO and Edward St. Aubyn’s THE PATRICK MELROSE NOVELS at Sky Atlantic.

David Brendel - producer
David Brendel was a consulting producer on the HBO documentary UNKNOWN SOLDIER, as well as on the Sundance Award winning doc THE BALLAD OF RAMBLIN’ JACK. He co-wrote the feature film GREETINGS FROM BUCKLEY for Tribeca and Universal/Focus World. He co-created the hour-long drama KOOLHAUS, set to film at Amazon in 2016. Currently, he is developing THE LAST SULTAN, a biography of music mogul Ahmet Ertegun, for television.

Jerry Risius - cameraman
Jerry Risius has a 25-year plus career dedicated to documentary cinematography. His collaborators include: HBO, Showtime, PBS (Frontline, NOVA, Nature, Wide-Angle, Independent Lens), CNN, and National Geographic, among others. He has worked on Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated documentaries and his television work has won multiple Emmys and two Peabodys, among other festival awards. He has worked with directors ranging from Edet Belzberg to Amy Berg; From Rachel Boynton to Ricki Stern & Anna Sundberg. He shot Mann V Ford for HBO, as well as the acclaimed films The Devil Came on Horseback and Our Brand is Crisis. Recently, he has shot multiple episodes of the acclaimed CNN series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

 

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