ONE OCTOBER is a lyrical time capsule that offers a window into the shifting heart of New York City. Filmed entirely in October of 2008, a time when gentrification is rapidly displacing the working and middle classes, Wall Street is plummeting, and Senator Obama is making his first presidential bid, the story begins with Clay Pigeon, an intrepid radio host who takes to the streets of New York City to talk to everyday citizens who are facing the uncertainty of change.
During his neighborhood rambles, Clay Pigeon meets people like Kristin, an optimistic young woman who has just arrived from the Midwest; Mark, a union construction worker still dusty from his workday and deeply in debt; Nicole, a transgender woman looking for an accepting community; and Stacie, a single mother in Harlem worried about gentrification.
Pigeon’s encounters interweave with observational passages that poignantly reveal urbanist Jane Jacobs’s idea of the “ballet of the good city sidewalk”: rollerskaters wind their way through Central Park, city dwellers seek blessings for a motley group of pets on St. Francis Day, observant Jews toss breadcrumbs into the Hudson River on Rosh Hashanah, and Muslims mark the end of their Ramadan fast with Eid al-Fitr prayers and expressions of forgiveness. Amid these celebrations of daily life we see the shifting landscape of the city: big-box stores and mega-chains rapidly replace independent businesses, giant glass buildings are erected where flea markets once stood, and luxury condos loom over small brick tenements.
Nuanced, cinematic, and often humorous, ONE OCTOBER charts the chasm between one’s desires and one’s means, explores the urgent need to conserve the old amid the glorification of the new, and affirms the notion that a varied streetscape is essential to the health of a dynamic metropolis. Seen from our current vantage point, the film is also a remarkable time capsule that foreshadows the roiling political upheaval spreading across the country today.