Starlite is a feature length documentary about the eviction of neighborhood bar that brings to light the importance of protecting cultural institutions and the perilous effects of denying representation to the residents of marginalized communities undergoing economic redevelopment.
Founded on a principle of non-discrimination in 1959, the Starlite Lounge was a cherished meeting place for people of all walks of life and famous for being the oldest Black-owned bar in the heart of Brooklyn. Throughout enormous social change over five decades from civil rights to gay liberation to AIDS activism, the Starlite Lounge has been a fixture and central space in these movements. Just as the Starlite community has been deeply affected by these waves of change, the bar has also felt the impact of rapid gentrification in central Brooklyn. By following the eviction of Brooklyn’s oldest black owned non-discriminating establishment, Starlite illustrates the importance of social spaces in marginalized communities, examines the complexities of gentrification, and demands that the needs and desires of these communities are represented in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods.
Starlite follows Linda and Dennis, the bar owners, and their cousin, longtime community activist, Debbie, as they mobilize support for the bar to remain in their current location. Though the impending displacement weighs heavy, life inside the bar continues as usual. In the face of controversy, the bar continues to provide a vibrant and celebratory social space for a diverse community. During the day, the old-timers, straight and gay, spend their days sipping drinks and socializing with friends both old and new. In the evening as the old timers slip out, the bar transforms night to night to a multi-racial crowd at karaoke, an intergenerational drag show, or a packed gay party sweating it out on the dance floor.
Starlite explores the intersections of race, sexuality, and gentrification through the documentation of a historic and cultural institution on the verge of disappearance. The closing of the Starlite Lounge means the loss of a neighborhood meeting place, a family, a legacy, a safe haven, and a living history of the LGBTQ community.
STATUS:Currently in production/ post-production.