BY CARMINE CARCIERI
“Pomonok Dreams,” a new documentary movie created by director Terry Katz and Al Stark, had its opening private screening this past Sunday at Queens College.
Five hundred former Pomonok residents from all over the United States had the chance to reignite their lifelong friendships while viewing a film that brings them back to their childhood years.
“It was incredible. It went way beyond what we thought. Very successful,” Katz said. “People were arriving from out of state and it was a destination for everyone to connect and catch up after 35 to 40 years of being separated. It was a fantastic experience.”
The uniquely informative movie goes into depth about how families moved from the Bronx, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side to a public housing complex in South Flushing called Pomonok Houses. It features an interesting twist that shows multiple contributing members of the society and the strong community that Katz and Stark grew up in. “Pomonok Dreams” not only documents life in public housing, but also how public housing first started, back in the 1950s and 60s, and what type of environment surrounds this community.
“We wanted to document what we did as children,” Katz said. “And this is a good strong springboard for public housing and for the Pomonok Houses.”
The housing complex, located at 67-10 Parsons Blvd., is complete with 35 buildings, three, seven or eight stories high, and 51 acres of land with 2,020-apartments that fits an estimated 4,204 total people. The development was built in 1949 with the name coming from a Native American word for eastern Long Island that means “tribute.”
They are spacious, red brick buildings that give their members a bonding experience, creating their own community-like atmosphere where everyone is treated equally and fairly no matter their race or age.
The 65-minute film was created in part to undo the false perceptions of crime, racial incidents and religious disagreements around these types of housing environments. There have been mentions of gang activity, shooting, robberies and drug busts in the past.
Stark originally attempted to put together a film in 1986, but it was difficult to make a movie during that time because of technological barriers. As the years went on Stark kept the idea in the back of his mind and as technology improved, he met up with Katz in order to put their resources together to build what is expected to be tremendous production.
“Pomonok Dreams” has been in the works for four years, including over 100 interviews with current and past residents, and received marvelous feedback from the attendees at the opening screening on Sunday.