Hope and Despair

By Tamara Palmer

The impact of Kevin Epps’ 2003 documentary Straight Outta Hunters
Point runs so deep in the neighborhood where it was filmed, kids who
have never met the director have the title of his film tattooed on
their arms and backs. Its long-anticipated sequel, Straight Outta
Hunters Point 2, shows a shade less overt violence than the original,
which kickstarted a nationwide trend toward harrowing hood videos. But
it is no less chilling in its exploration of the deep and systemic
issues that continue to plague the neighborhood and its residents.
These include gut-wrenchingly low high school graduation rates, and a
palette of ailments — such as asthma and cancer — that some
attribute to the hazardous waste from a PG&E power plant and the
contaminated vestiges of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Even as the
issues have escalated and seem more painfully deep, there are flickers
of hope that make this a compelling view. Progressing from the
original, Epps provides a more balanced look at genders and
generations, as well as avenues that members of the community have
taken as an alternative to the streets. And with the insistent grab
for land and development that’s currently powering through
Bayview-Hunters Point, the film also provides a vital snapshot of the
area and what it will soon no longer look like.

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