Los Sures (1984)

lossureFilmed thirty two years ago, Diego Echeverria’s documentary “Los Sures” is a striking and mesmerizing look at living in poverty in Brooklyn New York in 1984. Finally restored and given a long overdue theatrical release in 2016 to a wide release, “Los Sures” is a still very relevant look at impoverished and how those without opportunities are frozen in place in a neighborhood becoming more and more foreign to them. Diego Echeverria offers almost no narration and absolutely no soundtrack, instead painting the film with the sounds and sights of Williamsburg Brooklyn. The neighborhood dominated with a heavy Puerto Rican and Dominican population, Echeverria offers up a brief look in to the lives of four subjects, all of whom have no exit from their environment.

What’s worse is they have no idea how to escape their living situation since they either have no other alternatives, or can’t bear to abandon their people. Director Echeverria spends the most time on individual Tito, a young man barely in to his mid-twenties who is doing everything he can to support his wife and two children. He’s a man who can almost sense that his road ends with him in jail. When we meet him, he seems to spend all of his time running against the clock, making money however he can, and working alongside people he doesn’t trust or even like. He knows what he does is illegal, but he’s presented with little other alternatives. Prefacing Tito, the documentary ends with a look at the struggles of social worker and community organizer Evelyn, who takes her neighbors’ struggles with pure emotion.

She’s a woman deeply entrenched in drug riddled slums, and greatly worries about the future of her children, all the while she works tirelessly to lend a voice to people struggling around her. In one powerful moment, Evelyn uses a fire engine’s loud speaker to beg local neighbors for help in transferring an elderly woman and her handicap son to a new residence after a fire destroyed most of their home and belongings. “Los Sures” only clocks in at a little over an hour in length, but it still manages to strike a chord as a mesmerizing time capsule of eighties New York, and of the latin population’s struggles to get by day to day. For folks that have endured poverty most of their life, “Los Sures” is an especially stark and gripping tale of family and those clinging to one another just to make it day by day.

For some “Los Sures” is worth saving, while others view it as a place where they’re perpetually doomed to struggle to live for the rest of their days.