Spanish Lake Releases New Trailer, Premier Set for November in St. Louis

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The Spanish Lake film by native Phillip Andrew Morton has been selected for the St. Louis International Film Festival this November and will be released nationally in December. St. Louis got a sneak peek of the film at this year’s Open/Closed vacant land conference in April. At that event, the filmakers shared approximately 20 minutes of Spanish Lake and were joined by several residents of the unincorporated area for a discussion (view video of the event below). A new trailer for the film has added some national context for the north St. Louis County community. It’s hard to escape the parallels to another recent documentary focused on St. Louis, the Pruitt-Igeo Myth. Both films examine federal housing policy, local politics, racism and poverty. While the Pruitt-Igoe Myth covers post WWII St. Louis, roughly 1950 to 1970, Spanish Lake brings these issues to today. The film looks to be an important addition to our understanding of St. Louis. You’ll have to wait until November to see Spanish Lake, but if you want to learn more now about the issues it address, check out: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (film), Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City (book), A Nation Of Realtors: A Cultural History Of The Twentieth-century American Middle Class (book).

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  • jarrin

    Whatever happened with this film? Was it shown? Distributed? How can anyone interested see it? It looks like a project that would make for an excellent and much needed discussion.

  • guest

    Racism in St. Louis is severe. It’s driven by an irrational fear of black people, passed down from generation to the next. I recently heard a story that blew my mind. When the state of Missouri forced desegregation on the St. Louis area, busing city kids to suburban district, one parent from South County told me this: some parents were so freaked out about having their white South County kids attending school with black kids from St. Louis city, that they enrolled their fragile and frightened little ones into Lutheran South. So what exactly is the point of this documentary? Perhaps a better documentary would be to expose the overall level of racism throughout St. Louis, and not just in North County/St. Charles County.

    • Adam

      I doubt the creators of Spanish Lake claim/would claim that racism in STL is limited to No. Co. or St. Charles Co. But sometimes you have to limit your scope in order to construct an effective narrative/argument with limited time and resources. I think it’s kind-of silly to suggest “What’s the point?” just because the documentary doesn’t attempt to take on every incident of racism in the history of the STL metro.

      • guest

        Okay, since no one’s seen anything but the trailers, nonetheless, what *is* the point? “Section 8 housing destroys neighborhoods”? “Government housing programs destroyed Spanish Lake”? What do you think the lesson is? ‘Cause if that’s the case, then forget about Spanish Lake. St. Louis City has seen far more public housing/Section 8 than any quarter of St. Louis County.

        • Alex Ihnen

          It’s as simple as a Spanish Lake native wanting to tell the story of the last 30 years of his community. Why should anyone care? I don’t know, you don’t have to. I find the subject interesting for several reasons, one being that it shows that where we live isn’t simply some rational choice we all make. And if that’s the case, we should ask who is making that choice for us? What factors influence our communities?

          This idea of rational choice has been used again and again to attempt to explain the exodus from American cities to suburbs. It’s not a simple topic, but such explanations ignore issues such as bank redlining of entire swaths of cities, of racial discrimination by the realty profession, etc. With Spanish Lake, the filmmakers appear to be showing the this process didn’t die in the ’40s or 60’s or 80’s, but is still happening. We should all care about this.

          • guest

            Next question then would be where is this happening today and what if anything should be done about it?

    • Goober_Pyle

      Racism? Sorry, the facts are the facts. I lived in Spanish Lake as a child. When Section 8 came, my parents left pronto. It is the HOOD now. Those once lovely lower middle class homes are trashed and unrecognizable. If it “racism” to not want to live in the ghetto with hood rats then so be it. By the way, MY kids go to a racially diverse school. The difference being that the overwhelming majority of the kids have involved parents (plural). The parents work, pay taxes and obey the law. Not a single hood rat in the bunch.