Latinx Film and Media

Decade of Fire + Necropolis

Entry Question

What are some common signs of urban marginalization through time?

.What are the central ideas of this writer, thinker, and/or filmmaker?

In the documentary Decade of Fire, Vivian Vásquez looks at how during the 70s the systemic disenfranchisement of the Bronx as well as the criminalization of black, Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latinx people contributed to the literal burning of the borough and further displacement of these historically marginalized communities. Using Vasquez’s account, the filmmakers also pay attention to the ways grassroots organizing led to an ongoing project of revitalization, cultural affirmation, and sustainability.


.Analyze one specific section of the film with an excerpt by your assigned author that best communicates what you identified in the question above. What analogies and critical connections can you establish between the audiovisual work and the essay?

Necropolis- J. Chang (Page 13)


Both Chang and the filmmakers bring evidence of how landlords benefitted from burning their own buildings to collect insurance money. They proposed that this type of corrupt economy went on for many years with no accountability of repercussions against those who destroyed and displaced whole communities in the South Bronx.

.Select one specific element of mise-en-scene (costume, lighting, camera frames or movements, sound, music, actors’ movements, or positions) and examine how this artistic choice enhances or adds nuance to the central concerns of the audiovisual piece.

A mise en scene element that stands out from the documentary is the use of maps with archival footage to demonstrate and see the scale of its arguments (see 12:00-13:40 /  42:00-43:00).

In these two sections, we see on one side how redlining was part of a concerted effort of the state, the city, developers, and insurance companies to neglect black and Latinx communities, and on the other side, the amount of money made from the fires.

.Critical questions 

.What were some of the community initiatives against the “mathematics of destruction” (Chang 14) that stood out for you?

.Discuss specific examples of media representation, that led to the neglect and extreme marginalization of the Bronx during the 1970s.

.How the current wave of gentrification in the Bronx is connected to this story? (01:08:00-01:11:00)