Art and film: Growing up at 70 Hester Street with Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins

Contributed by Casimir Nozkowski /  I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a building that was once a synagogue, a whiskey still, a raincoat factory and when I was born there, a studio for my artist parents [Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins]. They moved in after they got married in 1967 and rented the top two floors for 45 years from another family. In 2012, the 130-year-old building was sold by that family and my parents moved out. But before they did, I filmed the hell out of it. 

hesterst
The studio and living space at 70 Hester Street.

And I realized I shared history with countless people who had lived or worked in this old building over two centuries. I filmed the neighborhood I grew up in and saw how rare old buildings with shared histories were becoming.

My documentary [posted below] is about my childhood home and how much of the past you could still see in it when we left. It’s about the development of a neighborhood a lot of lives have passed through and whether you can protect that legacy while still making room for new lives and new memories. In making my movie, I tried to follow some advice my mom gave me: “Don’t make a movie about moving out. Make it about how great it was to live here.” I like that sentiment but I couldn’t help wondering what was going to happen next to the old building I grew up in.

70 Hester Street
Written and Directed by Casimir Nozkowski (casimirnozkowski.com)
Narrated by Casimir Nozkowski, Thomas Nozkowski, Joyce Robins
Filmed and Edited by Casimir Nozkowski
Music by Alexander Strung
Re-Recording Engineering by Tod Chapman
Color Timing by Eyal Dimant

In 2014, 70 Hester Street premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Other festivals include: Rooftop Films, Vassar Filmfest, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Boston Jewish Festival, Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, Kansas City Jewish Film Festival, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival, Athens Jewish Film Festival, Hartford Jewish Film Festival and was a finalist at the Robinson International Short Film Competition.

Related posts:
Proximity: Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins
Pre-game: Who’s included in 2015 “Greater New York”?

Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Tags: ,

3 thoughts on “Art and film: Growing up at 70 Hester Street with Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins”

  1. Dear Mr. Casimir
    Thanks for this beautiful documentary!
    I met your dad (Tom Nozkowski) at Vermont Studio Center in 2000,
    which I got Freeman Fellowship over there , he came to my studio space and taught me a lot of thing about painting. My memory stilled very clear like it happened yesterday.
    Sincerely,
    Chai Kohskarika
    Chanthaburi, Thailand.

  2. Really great documentary, thank you for sharing Casimir. I love your fathers paintings, and it was great to see where he used to work. I’m glad part of 70 Hester Street will dedicated to showing art, it will hopefully stir more creation, reflection and enjoyed memories of an historical space.

  3. Really enjoyed this video. Like Casimir, I would want the building to remain. Physical spaces filled with history and so many individual stories. Glad it wasn’t torn down. The whole video struck a chord and resonated deeply with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *