Get Woke! Catskills presents a screening of Newburgh: Beauty and Tragedy with special guest, the film’s director, Dmitri Kasterine. The event will take place at 6 pm on Thursday, April 7 at SUNY Delhi’s Sanford Hall (Rm 250) and is free and open to the public. Bushel is a proud sponsor of Get Woke! events.
Newburgh: Beauty and Tragedy is a documentary film about a small city an hour north of Manhattan, whose Hudson River views, historic buildings, and rising gentrification contrast sharply and iconically with the crumbling, low-income, crime-ridden, predominantly black neighborhood and the long, grinding hollowing out at its heart.
In 1952, Look magazine listed Newburgh as an “All American City;” in 2019, USA Today ranked it among the 50 worst cities in the United States. Newburgh’s decline is emblematic of a broader decline of thousands of other cities and towns across the country — left behind by economic and social trends, largely forgotten and ignored by wealthier neighbors, yet rich in a sense of place, community, and pathos that are deep, essential parts of the American psyche, albeit suppressed.
The film tells downtown Newburgh’s story through interviews with longtime residents, but it’s much more than just a POV documentary. It’s an unflinching, compelling exploration of a place surrounding communities have long ignored and denied. It reveals Newburgh’s troubles and beauties alike in its unforgettable faces, once gracious ruined buildings and street scenes, in an overcrowded home, a soup kitchen, a prisoner re-entry program. It vividly evokes the lives and voices of Newburgh residents, who talk unguardedly and poignantly on camera, some of whom Kasterine had previously photographed for years. Still portraits of the subjects at earlier points in their lives contrast with the later interviews, conveying their uncompromising gazes, and a sense of both intimacy and distance.
Dmitri Kasterine, Director has photographed iconic cultural figures ranging from H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Samuel Beckett, and Roy Lichtenstein to Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Cindy Sherman and many others. His work has been displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in London and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
Born in England in 1932, Kasterine began his professional career as a photographer in 1961, working for publications such as and The Daily Telegraph magazine. He had a long association with Stanley Kubrick, taking stills on the set of Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). His personal photographic survey England and the English was published in 1981 by Worlds Work.
In 1986, he left Britain to move to the United States, which he had first visited on an assignment to photograph Mick Jagger in Los Angeles for the Radio Times. In 2000 he directed and filmed a documentary on Anthony Bourdain as he moved from chef to best-selling author and television personality.
Kasterine began taking pictures in Newburgh, New York in 1996. It wasn’t the city’s violent reputation that drew him there, but the beauty of its people and abandoned buildings. This beauty held him and he returned regularly with his camera for 22 years. His book Newburgh: Portrait of a City was published in 2012 by Quantuck Lane Press, an affiliate of W.W. Norton & Co. That same year, a public exhibition of 44 Kasterine’s mural-sized portraits of Newburgh residents was mounted on a building wall in the center of the city (where it still hangs today). Soon afterward he began filming Newburgh: Beauty and Tragedy, which he completed in 2019.
To register for this event (not required, but welcome) and to learn more, click HERE.