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At Home in Utopia

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About the film:
Producer – Michal Goldman
Co–producer – Ellen Brodsky
In Distribution, 2008

The Story

A home of one’s own: that’s the American dream. But what happens when the dreamers are immigrants, factory workers, and Communists?

In the mid-1920s, thousands of Jewish immigrant garment workers managed to catapult themselves out of urban slums and ghettos by pooling their resources and building four cooperatively owned and run apartment complexes in the Bronx. They believed that owning one’s home went a long way toward controlling one’s fate.

At Home in Utopia focuses on the United Workers Cooperative Colony – aka the Coops – the most grass-roots and member-driven of the Jewish labor housing cooperatives, where many of the residents were Communists or sympathetic to the communist movement. Beginning as a stalwartly secular East European Jewish working class enclave, they were part of an international movement the power of which blows minds today.

In the 1930s they opted to bring their passion for racial justice home, by racially integrating their own cooperative house, with unexpected consequences. An epic tale of the struggle for equity and justice across two generations, the film tracks the rise and fall of one community from the 1920s into the 1950s, paying close attention to the passions that bound them together and those that tore them apart. Along the way, At Home in Utopia bears witness to lives lived with courage across the barriers of race, nation, language, convention, and sometimes even common sense.

Key credits
Producer/writer/editor: Michal Goldman
Co-Producer: Ellen Brodsky
Story consultant: Andrew Hazelton
Narrator: Linda Lavin
Director of Photography: Boyd Estus
Original Music: John Kusiak
Consulting Editor: Peter Rhodes

At Home in Utopia is a co-production of ITVS and Michal Goldman, made in association with WGBH. The production received funding from the Puffin Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Humanities, Righteous Persons Foundation, Littauer Foundation, LEF Moving Image Fund, Klarman Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Sonya Staff Foundation, National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Driehaus Foundation, along with other foundations and individuals.

New York Times
In These Times
Bob Edwards Podcast – 2009-05-01

Associated Members

Michal Goldman