Public Money

Category: Independent Shorts

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Public Money

Short Documentary | 2017 | 24 Minutes

Across New York City, a bold experiment in participatory democracy is underway. Since 2012, the city council has steadily increased investment in a process called “Participatory Budgeting”, wherein community members gain a role in deciding how to spend part of a public budget. Through an eight month process, neighbors come together and work with government to propose, debate, and ultimately vote on budget decisions that affect their lives.  

This process, developed in Brazil in 1989, now takes place in 1,500 cities worldwide. In each location, PB brings together diverse communities to grapple with big questions at the center of urban development, while creating an opportunity for community members to transform the way they see their neighborhood, their neighbors, and themselves.   

Public Money delves into New York City’s PB process, the largest in the U.S, involving 67,000 people deciding how to spend over $30 million each year. Following the process over one year in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park – a diverse neighborhood of Mexican immigrants, Chinese immigrants and predominantly white gentrifiers – this quietly observed, verité documentary asks, what happens when community members come together to discuss and decide what development should look like in their neighborhood?  

Watch Full Film

Available in 2017 exclusively through New Day Films.

Production Team

Directed, Photographed & Edited by – Jay Arthur Sterrenberg

Co-Producers – Raj Kottamasu & Zara Serabian-Arthur

Sound Recording – Sean Hanley, Dara Messinger, Marie Mounteer, Adam Pogoff, Jessie Riley, Zara Serabian-Arthur

Additional Camera – Erick Boustead, Alison Brockhouse, Sean Hanley, Eric Phillips-Horst, Karim Tabbaa

Assistant Editors – Anna Moreno-Bosketti, Olivia Pohl, Daniel Ramirez