Jay Weichun is a Staten Island-based filmmaker focusing on issues surrounding ecology, social justice and spatial relationships. His work attempts to highlight individual narratives of community building and resistance. He holds an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College/CUNY.
I tell the stories of people from my community. Gardeners, artists and activists- people who posses a deep impulse to create beauty and make change are the subjects of my films. I share their stories in the hopes that it will inspire others to view their communities through an ever-widening realm of possibility.
Growing Food on Staten Island is a web-based documentary that I began in 2009, with the aim of documenting the practices of longtime vegetable gardeners. Included are many recent and first-generation immigrants from around the world. By telling their stories, the gardeners' unique cultural wisdom is preserved and others become inspired to pursue the worthwhile practice of growing and sharing food. It was presented at New Terrain: The 8th Annual Indiana University Landscape, Space and Place Graduate Student Conference in March of 2014 and has received support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
A Place of Spirit tells the story of Andrea Phillips, a local artist who faces eviction from her home after 44 years. Rather than center itself around the policy issues associated with Andrea’s eviction, A Place of Spirit focuses on Andrea’s emotional and spiritual relationship to her home. The film received Jury's Choice 1st Prize from the Black Maria Film Festival.
Local stories reveal larger narratives. I feel compelled and obligated to share the stories of those around me. In doing so, I hope to contribute to a more just and compassionate larger dialogue. If nothing else, I want people to view my work and gain a restored value in their neighbors and community.