Unleavened Irony: Streit’s Doc Release and Factory Demolition Happening Over Passover

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 at 9:33 am by
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Call it a case of unleavened irony. Demolition of the Streit’s Matzo factory and release of the long-in-production documentary on its life will both transpire this Passover.

Through three long years and the departure of its subject matter from the Lower East Side, the feature-length documentary, Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream, is finally set to hit the silver screen. And in a big way.

The film, directed by LES-based filmmaker Michael Levine and distributed by Menemsha Films, will see its national theatrical release in April, including a week-long run here at the Film Forum, April 20-26, and in Los Angeles that same week, with additional cities to follow.

“When I began filming, neither I nor any anyone at Streit’s could have envisioned that by the time of the film’s release, the factory would leave its Lower East Side home,” Levine says. “So what started as basically a historical document of the Streit family history in the neighborhood, also became something of a chronicle of the challenges that led to their decision to leave their home of 90 years.”

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As has been noted since Boogie first broke the news of its relocation last year, it was a trifecta of aging machinery, increasing foreign competition, and the challenges of manufacturing in today’s local real estate climate that finally forced the divestment. “This was not an easy decision,” Levine quipped. “They held out until basically it was stay and go out of business, or build a new factory, keep the family business going, and bring their workers along.”

Other contributing factors included lack of designated loading zone so their trucks were constantly ticketed, no tax incentives to stay until it was too late, the city issued a surcharge on their flour deliveries, etc.

The company’s new factory is scheduled to open on Route 303 in Rockland County in time for Passover 2017, as previously reported.

Meanwhile, back on the Lower East Side, we hear rumblings that the former factory buildings at 148-154 Rivington Street have a date with the omnipresent wrecking ball around the same time Matzo and the American Dream is to be released here in the city. The assemblage of tenements is slated to become (what else?) seven stories of luxury condos and retail. And if you look at the calendar, that’s the week of Passover.

“It seems a little like some sort of awful, cosmic joke that at the same time the film is playing in theaters, the old Rivington Street factory may be in the process of being demolished,” says Levine, “hopefully the timing will act as something of a call to action that the City needs to do more to protect and support family businesses. It’s very heartening that the Streit family is continuing the family business but the loss of the factory creates a void in the neighborhood that will not be filled by the condos that replace it.”

Screenings at Film Forum will include matzo giveaways and Q&A’s with the Streit family and factory workers, the filmmaker, and other special guests.

Pick up your tickets here.

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