The Fall of the I-Hotel (1983)
(revised 1993 and 2005) 58 minutes
The Fall of the I-Hotel brings to life the battle for housing in San Francisco. The brutal eviction of the International Hotel's tenants culminated a decade of spirited resistance to the razing of Manilatown.
The Fall of the I-Hotel works on several levels. It not only documents the struggle to save the I-Hotel, but also gives an overview of Filipino American history. Through personal interviews with elderly Filipinos (the "manongs"), we hear of hardships resulting from racial brutality and discriminatory legislation. We see the once-thriving Filipino community that centered around the International Hotel, a place which provided low-cost housing for seamen, farm and cannery workers, houseboys, and single working men--the Filipinos who came to America to find a better life during the 1920's. In the 1950's, the I-Hotel was the heart of Manilatown's 10,000 people. Business interests and the City government planned the expansion of San Francisco's "Wall Street of the West." By 1968, all that remained of Manilatown was the one block that housed the International hotel. The owner wanted to replace the hotel with a parking garage, catalyzing a movement of senior citizens, churches, labor groups and community activists to preserve the I-Hotel as low-cost housing for the elderly, and as an Asian community center. Despite political maneuvering at City Hall and popular support for the hotel residents, 300 baton-wielding and horse-mounted police broke through several thousand people (the "human barricade") surrounding the building, and forcibly evicted 50 elderly tenants in the pre-dawn hours of August 4, 1977.
This is not just a story about old men in an old building, but of multiple tragedies: ethnic communities redeveloped out of existence, housing gobbled up by realtors, the shabby treatment of the elderly, the betrayal of American ideals learned in the Phillipines by its American pioneers.
The Fall of the I-Hotel serves as witness to the community's fight to survive, and as tribute to the dignity and strength of the Manongs.
This DVD is for private home use only. Institutions should buy institutional copies from www.chonkmoonhunter.com.