Film project hopes to tell story of each Syracuse neighborhood

Sep 14, 2012

Jamil Munoz grew up in Syracuse. He even moved around a couple times as a kid. Still, he had no idea there were so many different neighborhoods here.

Three years ago, while still in film school at Syracuse University, he came up with the idea to make a documentary about all of the city's different sections.

This summer that idea got off the ground. Munoz just finished recruiting filmmakers for The 26 Neighborhoods Project.

Twenty-six is the number of officially recognized neighborhoods in Syracuse. But by some counts - when including sections like Tipperary Hill, Franklin Square and Hawley-Green - there are more than 30 neighborhoods. All in a city that's 26.6 square miles big.

"What you'd think of as a pretty small city, to know that there are these different, distinct, areas," he says. "And then you look at the map, you realize ‘oh, there is something a little different about the Near West Side. Or the South Valley has all these different features.’ I thought that would be an interesting thing to explore."

Most of the filmmakers Munoz rounded up are also from Syracuse. Some will have the chance to explore their own neighborhood, but others will be sent to unfamiliar sections.

Each is tasked with telling a three to five minute story about something in that neighborhood.

"Energy in the air"

There's a renewed focus in the city surrounding neighborhood revitalization, Munoz feels, and this is a good time to capture it.

"This is partly an attempt to capture some of that. Because there’s a different, kind of, energy in the air right now," he says. "People seem to slowly be getting more interested and involved in the arts and the role they’re playing here."

The 26 Neighborhoods Project is about as low-budget as you can get for a film. Most of the artist will be supplying their own cameras and equipment, according to Munoz.

"It's very much a grassroots, do-it-yourself project," he says with a chuckle.

They'll spend the next few weeks planning and then will film and edit during the fall. Munoz hopes to put all the stories together into a single documentary that he will show throughout Syracuse next year.

You can follow reporter Ryan Delaney on Twitter @RyanWRVO