School of Media Studies

9/14, Doc Talk: Decade of Fire





Monday, Sep. 14th, 2PM EST


Screening and Q&A with Vivian Vázquez (Co-Director/Producer), Gretchen Hildebran (Co-Director Producer) and Neyda Martinez (Producer / TNS Faculty)

The well-paced, tightly constructed, often crushingly emotional documentary is stirring and compelling throughout, illuminating both a dark chapter of New York City history and an all-too-common example of the extent to which inner-city people can be unjustly victimized by those in power.  -Nick Rocco Scalia, Film Threat

Denying us access to our history and replacing it with a narrative that justifies things as they are is a real act of violence—a real weapon. Telling history like Decade of Fire does is a real way to take power back. – Susanna Blankley, The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition

Throughout the 1970’s, fires consumed the South Bronx. Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed for the devastation even as they battled daily to save their neighborhoods. In DECADE OF FIRE, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry pursues the truth surrounding the fires – uncovering policies of racism and neglect that still shape our cities, and offering hope to communities on the brink today. Through a rich seam of archival and home movie footage, DECADE OF FIRE confronts the racially-charged stereotypes that dehumanized residents of the South Bronx in the 1970’s, and rationalized their abandonment by city, state and federal governments. Vázquez Irizarry, in her role as the film’s central character and co-director seeks not only healing for her community, but to redeem them from the harmful mythology spread by the media that has continued largely unchallenged to this day.

Vivian Vázquez Irizarry (Director / Producer)

An educator and facilitator, Vivian ran educational and youth leadership development programs at the Coro Foundation, Bronxworks, and is currently the director of community-school partnerships at the New Settlement Community Campus. Vázquez Irizarry managed educational youth development models in GED completion and college access programs across New York City. A former member of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, she is a member of 52 People for Progress, a community organization that saved her childhood playground and revitalized the South Bronx for the last 35 years.

Gretchen Hildebran (Director / Producer) 

Gretchen is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose work lives at the intersection of politics, policy and human experience. Credits include: WORTH SAVING (2004), which was presented in HBO’s Frame by Frame showcase; OUT IN THE HEARTLAND (2005) which explored anti-gay legislation in Kentucky. A 2005 graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Gretchen shot Ramona Diaz’s THE LEARNING (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as on independent documentaries. Gretchen has also made a series of short documentaries used to educate communities across the country about life-saving interventions such as needle exchange and overdose prevention.

Neyda Martinez (Producer)

Neyda Martinez is the communications strategist for public television’s documentary series, AMERICA REFRAMED. For 7 years, Neyda worked at POV supporting campaigns of over 65 acclaimed films. She earned an MPA from Columbia University in 2008. She was Director of National Engagement for PBS’ documentary, LATINO AMERICANS and she produced the documentary film LUCKY. As a consultant, she’s served Hachette Book Group USA, NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Adult Education, and WNYC and NPR’s “The Takeaway.” She is on the board of directors of The Association of American Cultures, Women Make Movies and Bronx-based dance company, Pepatian. Prior board service includes Third World Newsreel and NALIP/National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

Please join us for this online screening and Q&A, hosted and moderated by Amir Husak, Director of Documentary Studies and Assistant Professor in the School of Media Studies.

Presented by the Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies


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