The Healing Gardens of New York tells the stories of the lives and communities transformed by gardens and green spaces created in response to crime, neglect, poverty and urban decay. The stories range from the Bronx to Battery Park.
In the South Bronx, a man believed he was “lost and without direction” until the abandoned lot he helped to turn into a garden, changed not only his life, but his community. His garden now has over 100 families as members, sponsors youth mentoring internships, and runs a program that feeds the neighborhood’s needy.
In Times Square, a man who suffers from mental illness has found increasing emotional stability through tending a small garden. On Rikers Island, The GreenHouse Project allows inmates to find redemption in their work, while providing necessary job skills for their release. At the north end of Central Park, a woman restored an abandoned garden overrun with graffiti, trash, and drug dealers, that is now source of pride for the city.
The Healing Gardens of New York illustrates the significance of gardens and green spaces in the face of ever growing urbanization and development. In cities dominated by glass and concrete, it takes an in-depth look at how gardens can be a platform for social change and an opportunity to develop new skills and transform lives.
“DOCUMENTARY filmmaker Alexandra Isles has come up with a new movie, so incredibly lovely that it gives a person hope for the human race. Who knew that NYC is dotted with plots of deserted land from Harlem to Rikers Island, from the Conservancy to the Labyrinth downtown, and that all sorts of citizens, high and low (some actually still incarcerated for crimes), have come to love and tend these gardens. There is even a small garden in Times Square, lovingly taken care of in the midst of car exhaust and noisy traffic. This is an unusually tranquil film experience with wonderful music. It will take your mind off a lot of nasty things. Don't miss it!”–Liz Smith, New York Post
“An inspiring documentary! This beautifully photographed program features excellent technical qualities. It would be a superb resource for a beginning college sociology course and a solid addition to any public library.”–Library Journal
“The Healing Gardens of New York captures the one universal truth all community gardens share —and that is the power to make life better for those who toil in them.”–Organic Gardening
“Alexandra Isles has reached deep into the soul of gardens and gardeners to identify one of the mystical aspects of gardening – that mysterious interaction with soil and plants that produces a sense of well-being”.–Horticultural Society of New York
Premiere: Pioneer Theatre, NY
Official Selection: Documentary Fortnight: Museum of Modern Art
Official Selection: Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection: Charlotte Independent Film Festival, Best of the Best Winner: Secret City Film Festival
Official Selection: Black Maria Film Festival, Director's Citation