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HBO Documentary on LI Unemployment Screened at Adelphi

Two filmmakers have teamed with cable powerhouse HBO to produce a documentary on one of the hardest-hit areas in terms of joblessness - Long Island.

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO
With the nation still in the throws of a brutal economic recession and climbing unemployment statistics, two filmmakers have teamed with cable powerhouse HBO to produce a documentary on one of the hardest-hit areas in terms of joblessness - Long Island.

Hard Times – Lost on Long Island, created by Blowback Productions, was shown in an exclusive screening this week at Adelphi University, and according to political science professor Maggie Gray, Ph.D, the film is a sobering slice of the reality of our nation’s current economic woes.

“We’re in the middle of an economic recession...millions of Americans are experiencing long-term unemployment,” she said. “Personal income is at a low, even for a recession, and in 2010 alone, the U.S. saw 2.9 million homes foreclosed. But what does this mean for the average American? The film we’re going to see tonight answers that question by giving you the personal stories that you don’t get when you look at the statistics," Gray said.

“This is a moving film that will help you re-think the way our economy works, the role of our government, of local communities, and even families in times of crisis."

The 52-minute production of Hard Times, shot entirely on Long Island, highlights the all-too-human side of the recession; unemployed and underemployed families, both young and old, desperately trying to cling together amid the stress and mounting financial burden permeating almost every aspect of their lives. It’s a touching and affecting look into real people with real problems that anyone watching could relate to; problems, such as losing their home, that everyone fears could happen to them.

Professor Robert Linne is a member of an organization at Adelphi called the Francis Perkins Forum, which works to educate young people about labor studies and working class issues.

“We had worked with Blowback Productions before on another film that they had done,” he said. “So, when they made this one, which is set on Long Island, it seemed like a perfect fit [to] have screened here at Adelphi.”  

Plainview resident Alan Fromm, one of the “stars” of Hard Times, was on-hand for the screening. Fromm is a centerpiece of the film, which in part chronicles his year-long search for employment and the intense stress it caused both him and his family.  

“I worked for a company that did compliance and ethics training,” he said. “They were trying to remain competitive and profitable, and they ended up laid off about 70 percent of their workforce, including me. The affect on my family and I was devastating...I had kids in college, a mortgage, car payments...the whole nine yards, and suddenly you’re trying to live on unemployment, which doesn’t go very far."

While Fromm is now gainfully employed, he said that he’ll never forget the hardships he endured while out of work.

“It’s not something you recover from easily,” he said. “I’m working, I’m making a decent living, but it’s taken its toll, and we’re recovering slowly. But at least we’re not in the same boat we were in a year and a half ago.”

After the screening, a panel of guests, including the co-producer of the film, Alan Fromm, and several Adelphi professors, fielded questions from the audience.

Hard Times – Lost on Long Island is set to debut on HBO in the near future. Check your local listings for time and date.

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