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About this short film

ON THE LINE


Year: 2021 (in Distribution)

Medium: Short Documentary; 4K Digital Video

Size: 9 Minutes 50 Seconds

Description: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City in March 2020, Sixth Street Community Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan quickly pivoted its programming to focus on emergency food distribution. More than nine months later, volunteers and staff continue to gather once a week to distribute boxes of cheese, chicken, hotdogs, and apples to hundreds of neighbors, the majority of whom are Chinese and Chinese-American. Amidst the crises of hunger, health, and violence facing this low-income community, On the Line explores the stress of adapting to unfamiliar foods, the frustration of hours waiting on line, and the power of mutual aid.



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En Marzo del 2020, al iniciar la pandemia del COVID-19, Sixth Street Community Center en Lower East Side en Manhattan decidió que se iba a dedicar a distribuir comida de emergencia. Más de nueve meses después, los voluntarios y los empleados del centro continúan distribuyendo comida una vez por semana, incluyendo queso, pollo, hotdogs y manzanas, a cientos de vecinos, la mayoría siendo provenientes de China o de descendencia china. En medio de las crisis de hambre, salud y violencia que enfrenta esta comunidad de bajos ingresos, “On the Line” presenta el estrés de adaptarse a comidas desconocidas, la frustración de esperar horas en cola, y el poder del trabajo comunitario.


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影片描述:2020年3月——當冠狀病毒襲擊紐約市時,曼哈頓下東區的六街社區中心迅速將重點轉向緊急食品分發。九個多月後,志願者和工作人員每週將成箱的奶酪、雞肉、熱狗和蘋果分發給數百名鄰居。其中大多數是中國人和華裔美國人。當低收入群體面臨飢餓、健康和暴力危機中,《On the Line》探索適應陌生食物的壓力、在線等待時間的沮喪,以及互助的力量


Watch the trailer for the film below:


director | Naomi Schiller

producer | Daniel Fethke

cinematographer | Kenny Wu

editor | Daniel Fethke

interpreters | Chloe Lin, Ziyi Li

featuring | Jen Chantrtanapichate, Maria Muniz, Bo Bao, the people of Loisaida

sound edit & mix | Brandon Woodruff

colorist | daniel debrey

CONTACT US TO ORGANIZE A SCREENING & DISCUSSION IN YOUR COMMUNITY: Email [email protected] and [email protected]



Filmmaker Daniel Fethke


About the Filmmakers

Naomi Schiller

Director: Naomi Schiller is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY and 2020-2022 Faculty Lead of “On the Line: Land Use, Food Access, Climate Justice and Organizing in New York City” project as part of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Naomi’s research and teaching focus on urban politics, climate justice, visual and media anthropology, and the state. She honed her documentary filmmaking practice in NYU’s Culture and Media program. Naomi is author of Channeling the State: Community Media and Popular Politics in Venezuela. She is active in union organizing and anti-displacement struggles.


Daniel Fethke

Producer and editor: Daniel Fethke is a filmmaker, artist, and activist from New York City. He works mainly as a freelance Director/Producer, having worked on 30+ feature films since abandoning med-school in 2013. He is currently Producing "On the Line," a short documentary that tells the story of growing lines, rising tensions, and the power of mutual aid at a community center in the Lower East Side of New York City. Outside of film, he can be found wearing many hats: cooking free meals for his neighbors, riding a tricycle around Brooklyn to distribute PPE, or writing science fiction stories about techno-politics. Daniel will be pursuing an MFA this Fall at the Pratt Institute, where he will be focusing on his multimedia practice.


Kenny Wu filming

Cinematographer: Kenny Wu is a New York based filmmaker, serving mainly as a Director of Photography and Camera Operator. He has worked on shows such as Saturday Night Live, the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, and Late Night with Seth Myers. He is also a member of the ICG IATSE Local 600 as a Camera Operator. When not on a film set, he is riding his bicycle around the city or rock climbing. He also enjoys taking photographs and recently released a photo zine on his travels to Taiwan.


Chloe Lin

Interpreter: Chloe Lin is an interpreter, translator, artist, and activist. Born in China and growing up in the Lower East Side, she saw people in her community being priced out of the neighborhood because of luxury developments. Chloe decided to take action and advocate for her community. She is an active member in multiple organizations and mutual aids, and a strong advocate on issues such as anti-displacement, workers’ rights, food security, and more.

The film was made possible by Sixth Street Community Center, a co-production with the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and co-sponsored by On the Line: Land Use, Food Access, Climate Justice and Organizing in New York Cityproject as part of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Discussion Questions for On the Line

1) How were people in your community affected and how did they respond to the Covid-19 crisis?

2) Think back to a time when you had to wait in a long line for something. What did the experience of waiting provoke? How can you connect your experience to what you see in the film?

3) What tensions does the film highlight?

4) What does Bo’s and Maria’s volunteer work to distribute food mean to them?

5) Poverty is often stigmatized as a moral failing of the individual. The media and government typically distinguish between the deserving and undeserving poor. How does the film represent people waiting on line? What strategies do the filmmakers use to counter judgement or pity?

6) Have you experienced or observed food insecurity in your own community? What services are available and how does this service provision empower or disempower people?

    Study Guide for On the Line

    On Food Insecurity and America’s Food Safety Network

    Janet Poppendieck’s Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement


    Maggie Dickinson’s Feeding the Crisis: Care and Abandonment in America’s Food Safety Net

    Feeding the Crisis by Maggie Dickinson


    Rebecca T. de Souza’s Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries


    Dean Spade’s Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (and the Next)

    Watch an amazing panel discussion based on Dean Spade’s work: http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/survival-and-resistance-mutual-aid-in-disastrous-times/

    Also, check out this aggregated resource of articles on food insecurity and food justice: https://www.cunyurbanfoodpolicy.org/publications



    On the Lower East Side and Sixth Street Community Center

    Christopher Mele;
    Selling the Lower East Side: Culture, Real Estate, and Resistance in New York City, (2000)


    On the History of Chinese Immigration to the United States and Chinese-American Communities in New York

    Madeline Hsu:
    Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882-1943 (2000)

    The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority (2015)​

    Peter Kwong:
    The New Chinatown (1996)
    Forbidden Workers (maybe 1997)

    Ken Guest;
    “Manhattan's Chinatown: From Mott Street to East Broadway” (2011) Journal of Overseas Chinese

    Tarry Hum
    Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood: Brooklyn's Sunset Park (2014)

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