The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation’s (NNJCF) ArtsBergen initiative announces the selection of four Hackensack entrepreneurs to appear in the documentary film, ‘Stories on Main Street: Hackensack Immigrant Business Owners as Placemakers’. The business owners are: Domenico Daniele from Coffee Break, Nelfita Rodas from Colombia Bakery Factory, Yusef Ural from El Turco Grill, and Aida Yungasaca from Colombia Fashion LLC.
Entrepreneurs Tell Their Stories
Each entrepreneur will narrate a documentary about themselves and their business. They will also receive a $250 stipend for their contribution. They will also discuss their business and its role in creating and maintaining the cultural identity of downtown Hackensack. Furthermore, the documentary provides a mechanism to preserve and share each immigrant entrepreneur’s history and story about their business and its impact on the downtown.
Award-winning filmmaker Dana Glazer will film and also produce four, five-minute documentaries spotlighting immigrants, who own and run a business on Main Street in Hackensack, New Jersey. Furthermore, each business owner receives a dedicated, five-minute film to promote their business.
In December of 2021, the entrepreneurs responded to a call for submissions. They completed an online application about their business. A selection committee considered the project’s goals and identified key characteristics in the finalists. In addition, these included showcasing immigrant business owners who are examples of placemakers and culture bearers, amplifying the voices of long-time owners and honoring them through the project, representing entrepreneurs from various cultures, and extracting compelling stories from the owners about their business and influence on Hackensack. Furthermore, the participants needed to have some charisma and feel comfortable on camera. They also had to provide supplemental materials, such as photos, recipes, old documents, or other items to tell their story.
Celebrating Immigrant Owned Businesses
The film project celebrates immigrant owned small businesses by capturing their unique, varied oral histories through documentary story telling. The organizers plan to show the films at Hackensack City’s public events. They will also be highlighted on a StoryMap website of Main Street to market each business. Using ArcGis technology, an online story map of ‘Stories on Main Street’ will be designed. In addition, the map allows the community to identify sites. They also upload their own stories about Main Street, to create a dynamic public repository of identity in the city.
“Each business has a unique niche that contributes valuable cultural offerings to the downtown and its patrons. As a whole, they represent how immigrant businesses historically and currently influence a strong sense of place on Main Street. We are excited to work together to preserve and showcase their stories,” said Danielle De Laurentis, Associate Director, Northern New Jersey Community Foundation.
Several partners came together to undertake the project. The partners include the NNJCF; The Sack Business Alliance; Kathryn Rizzi, Assistant Director at The State University of Rutgers Oral History Archives; and Dana Glazer of Dane-Gramp Productions. The project culminates with four five-minute documentary films. The organizers also plan to show the films at free events throughout Hackensack, including the Hackensack Citywide Block Party.
The film is a project supported by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.