Focused on Toronto’s Regent Park, My Piece of the City follows a few local kids as they prepare for their community-inspired stage production, The Journey.
My Piece of the City does its duty in uncovering one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods that has harboured unjust and inaccurate reputations. Filmmaker Moze Mossanen provides enough history to give context for viewers who aren’t from Regent Park’s home city, while also setting a limit to fit his hour-long documentary. His coverage of The Journey is sufficient – we learn it’s a performance with spoken word, dramatizations, and music to effectively portray the affectionate Regent Park community. Viewers are taken for a walk through the recent and ongoing development of Regent Park – now a mixed income neighbourhood – and shown places where schools and buildings used to exist. We see empty lots with future plans, community centres and sports fields, and expensive properties far beyond the means of the traditional Regent Park dwellers.
The Journey is the community’s response to educate, contextualize and document the fading and meaningful history of Regent Park, and My Piece of the City is equally outspoken; allowing community members to tell their story in a way that no other documentary could replicate with “talking heads” or an analytical discourse. Knowing Regent Park’s several – sometimes unfavourable – reputations, the locals supply a fresh perspective – that of home and memory. No amount of green-living condos or spacious sports fields can change how it once was to them, but it can erase how it is to them now.
My Piece of the City is neatly packaged: bookended by appropriately brief and succinct interviews from extra-community professionals, with the meatier personal stories of The Journey being punctuated by minimalist music video segments. While My Piece of the City overtly calls attention to itself on more than one occasion, it can be excused as a necessary device through which the situation and depth of the subjects are further explored.
If you can’t get enough of Toronto history and culture, My Piece of the City is the perfect film to summarize the current and ongoing modernization of the vast and diverse downtown core – for all its benefits and detriments. If you yearn for stories of at-risk young artists inspired to answer their call, My Piece of the City has that too.
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Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery