Into My Life

A Film By Ivana Hucíková, Sarah Keeling & Grace Remington

As Cassandra Bromfield grew up in Brooklyn’s Lindsay Park Housing Cooperative, so many of her most memorable moments were recorded by the artful gaze of her mother, M. Elaine. Elaine, a schoolteacher, made capturing the daily existence in the largest Mitchell-Lama co-op in Brooklyn a practice that paid tribute to the lives of its diverse inhabitants. She documented the exuberance of Lindsay Park’s public spaces, showcasing its lively pool, packed playground, and graffitied handball court. Children and teenagers gleefully performed in front of her Bolex.

Today, Cassandra lives in the same apartment and continues to engage with this audiovisual legacy by editing short videos from the Super-8 footage she and her mother shot. She works as a fashion designer during the day, sewing together visions her clients have of themselves, and as a filmmaker at night, assembling documents of her life and that of Lindsay Park.

Into My Life dives into this family archive and juxtaposes it with contemporary footage of Cassandra in her apartment, sewing, editing, and discussing her legacy. She takes us from her beginnings in Lindsay Park to the present day. The archival footage shown dovetails her discussion of the importance of (self-)documentation, featuring her and her mother’s own in-camera editing and recordings of each other. By exploring this rich, overlooked archive as guided by one of its creators and its current keeper, Into My Life pays tribute to the work of Cassandra and her mother and underscores the importance of this archive and the lives it captures.This project is a part of Just to Get By,  a UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Production. 

Screenings

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Press

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Artist's Statement

This project initially focused on Lindsay Park as a means of exploring affordable housing in New York City. As soon as we came across Cassandra and her archive, however, we realized that attention needed to be paid to this woman’s trove of materials and the work she continues to do to preserve her legacy and that of her mother. Documentation of African-American domestic life from the 1960s onwards is rare enough, archivally speaking; and documentation of the subject by a pair of African-American female filmmakers is even more extraordinary. Beyond the archival material itself, however, Cassandra’s relationship to her mother, her mother’s legacy, and her own identity as part of this continuum resonated with all of us personally and as filmmakers. In developing Into My Life, we sought to pay tribute to two amazing women, the films that they made, and the relationships that they had with each other and with their cameras.

Formally, we decided to use Cassandra’s own voice to guide the film, allowing her to narrate our exploration of her archive and discuss her history of filmmaking and that of her mother. The piece is really by and for Cassandra; her collaboration and her archive were both fundamental in informing the structure of the final product. By placing the archival material in conversation with footage shot with Cassandra in her home, we also sought to highlight the current state of Lindsay Park and showcase Cassandra’s life as it stands now, separate from that of her mother. Highlighting her work as a fashion designer allowed us to establish connections between her filmmaking and her professional pursuits while also underscoring her mother’s continued influence. Although Cassandra is the keeper of these 8-mm films, she is also much more than that; by having Cassandra tell her story in her own words and show us her life as she lives it today, we sought to bring her archive into the present and present her in all of its glory.    —  IVANA HUCÍKOVÁ, SARAH KEELING, GRACE REMINGTON

Credits

Co-Directors: Ivana Hucíková, Sarah Keeling, Grace Remington
Cast: Cassandra Bromfield
Producer: Grace Remington
Cinematography: Ivana Hucíková, Sarah Keeling
Archival Cinematography: Cassandra Bromfield, M.Elaine Bromfield
Editor: Ivana Hucíková
Assistant Editor and Sound Recording: Sarah Keeling

Executive Producer: UnionDocs
UnionDocs Collaborative Studio Director: Jen Heuson
UnionDocs Artistic Director: Christopher Allen

Supported by New York Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Office of City Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Abelcine & Canon

Filmmaker Bios

Ivana Hucíková is a documentary filmmaker from Bratislava, Slovakia, where she graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in 2015 and shortly after co-founded a collective of young documentary filmmakers, Mirakl, o.z. Her thesis short documentary film “Mothers and Daughters” was distributed by KineDok and screened in more than 60 venues in numerous countries of Europe. She was a development producer of an upcoming feature length documentary film, “Yours Sincerely, Social System”, which was awarded the IDFA Forum Award during the East Doc Platform 2017 in Prague. In 2017, she was one of the Fellows of the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio in New York, participated in the IDFAcademy 2017 in Amsterdam and was selected as one of the Fellows of the MADE in New York 2018 Fellowship. Ivana is currently working as a freelance documentary director, editor and cinematographer both in Europe and the US.

Born and raised in Arizona, Sarah Keeling’s creative career began as a reaction to the landscape, and resulting culture, in which she was raised. Since then, her work continues to explore patterns and systems in everyday life, looking at social systems and the impact they have on individual’s personal stories. Often research-based and working as systematic as the topics she investigates, Sarah looks to illuminate overlooked ideas or stories through her process. The stories and images she creates often combine familiarity and humor to make comedic yet contemplative works. Sarah works across documentary film, public installation and interdisciplinary projects. She has exhibited in galleries, museums, and festivals internationally. Past projects have been included at the Queens Museum of Art, University of Buffalo Gallery, ISEA 2015 Toronto, and David B. Smith Gallery in Colorado. She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Grace Remington is a producer who has worked in documentary film and television in the United States, Mexico, and Peru. She worked as the archival producer for “Abstract: The Art of Design,” an eight-episode documentary series directed by Morgan Neville, Richard Press, Chai Vasarhelyi, and Brian Oakes that debuted at Sundance prior to streaming on Netflix in 2017. She also worked as the archival producer on “Year Million” (National Geographic, 2017) and is currently working as a supervising archival producer on an in-production Netflix series and as a story producer for an upcoming Discovery special.

UnionDocs Collaborative Studio

Into My life is a production of the 2017 UnionDocs Collaborative Studio.  Since 2010, UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art has guided select groups of documentary fellows in our Collaborative Studio Program through a 10-month production cycle. Coming from a wide diversity of backgrounds and countries, the CoLab has been an invaluable experience to meet other collaborators, enact ideas, and expand as a filmmaker.

From 2015-2017, the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio worked on multi-platform production JUST TO GET BY. This project highlights the creative solutions and difficult choices that individuals in NYC make every day to survive in the city, at a time when 50% of the population lives near or below the federal poverty level. The project brings attention to the difficult choices and resourceful solutions this underrepresented population must make in order to survive the city today.

JUST TO GET BY developed ways that the authorship of documentary can be shared with the subjects. At the same time, fellows were encouraged to develop work across perceived boundaries of social class, age, and race. Projects are not intended to be “outsider artist” biographies or portraits, rather each short documentary produced offers an attempt to break with the conventions of documentary. They are negotiations of the problematics of representation and portrayals that blur the relationships between the filmmaker and those who are living just to get by.