Beyond Chron, May 20, 2020

“5 Blocks,” “Santiago, Italia,” And Other Roxie Virtual Cinema Offerings

If you’ve missed the previously reviewed Dan Goldes and Robert Cortlandt documentary “5 Blocks,” don’t sleep on it.  San Francisco’s Market Street once had a reputation for being America’s grandest boulevard.  Located mere minutes from City Hall, the Central Market area in particular became a popular venue for city celebrations.  However, over the years the area fell into such decline that it became home to San Francisco’s poorest residents.

48 Hills, May 12, 2020

Screen Grabs: ‘5 Blocks’ delves into Mid-Market development fiasco

Many everyday things have been notable for their absence during the shutdown, so something that stood out was construction—because it never seemed to stop, even on the residential level where it was supposed to. Now that restrictions have been relaxed, it’s one industry where San Francisco seems back to “business as usual,” with building and road work as ubiquitous as ever. We are, after all, still a boom town, though we’ll see if that remains true once it’s clear what kind of long-term economic damage has been wrought.

Which brings us to 5 Blocks, a new 50-minute documentary by Dan Goldes and the late Robert Cortlandt (to whom it is dedicated) that can be streamed through May 21, with proceeds helping to benefit the Roxie. It begins with a brief history of how Market Street was conceived as early as the 1840s as the extra-wide “Champs-Élysées of San Francisco,” only growing more impressive in the rebuilding push after the 1906 earthquake as a cultural and social hub of extravagant theaters, retail emporiums, and so forth.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 6, 2020

Roxie screens (virtually) a stroll down ever-changing Market Street in ‘5 Blocks’

San Francisco’s Market Street was envisioned in the mid-19th century by urban planners as a grand thoroughfare to rival the Champs-Élysées in Paris or the Via Veneto in Rome. Indeed, it was the main cultural artery of the city during much of the early 20th century.

We all know that’s not the case now. Dan Goldes’ intriguing documentary “5 Blocks” explores that neglected area between Fifth and 10th streets, ambitiously exploring its history as well as tackling the various issues confronting city planners now during its ongoing revitalization.

Sonoma West Times & News, May 6, 2020

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival launches online program

The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, which had to cancel its annual week-long festival in March because of the pandemic, will be offering documentary shorts and filmed conversations with directors online starting this week.

“We’re calling the program ‘Documentaries Make House Calls,’” said Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival co-director Cynthi Stefanoni.

The program will be available for streaming May 7-17 and tickets are $10 at Eventive (

The Atascadero News, February 19, 2020

2020 SLO International Film Festival Competition Lineup Announced

The 26th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (March 17-22) has revealed the films selected this year for the George Sidney Independent Film Competition sections. They comprise 10 narrative features and 20 documentary features, 22 narrative short films, and 10 documentary shorts. Representing 18 countries, the films include some surprising names as well as the independent streak that has characterized SLO Film Fest films for more than a quarter century now.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2019

Revitalization of Mid-Market is subject of ‘5 Blocks’ at SF Green festival

The increasingly essential San Francisco Green Film Festival is back for a ninth year, timed to coincide with this week’s United Nations Climate Action Summit and the Global Climate Strike by activists from around the world.

Sure, a lot is happening around the world, but a lot is happening right around us, too, and this year’s festival theme, “Home,” invites us to think globally by acting locally. And you can’t get more local than the documentary “5 Blocks,” about the challenges of revitalizing the Mid-Market Street stretch between Fifth and Tenth streets.

“5 Blocks” is both ambitious, exploring the San Francisco street’s history as well as tackling the various issues confronting city planners now during its ongoing revitalization, and brisk, accomplishing a lot in less than an hour.

BeyondChron, September 24, 2019

5 Blocks: A Must See Film on SF’s Mid-Market

San Francisco’s Mid-Market may be the city’s least understood neighborhood. While everyone agrees that Mid-Market’s long decline needs to be reversed, there is disagreement on how to accomplish this and what defines “success.”

Dan Goldes’ and Robert Cortlandt’s new film 5 Blocks offers the best account of the thought process that underscored Mid-Market’s evolution since 2011, when Mayor Ed Lee prioritized the area’s revival. The film avoids the ideological blinders that the media has too often used to deceive rather than illuminate Mid-Market’s development.  5 Blocks offers diverse perspectives on the Mid-Market/Tenderloin payroll tax credit for net new hires that the Board of Supervisors passed 8-3 in 2011, allowing viewers to reach their own conclusions.

I wish all San Franciscans could see this film. It should also interest those in other cities considering  how to revive depressed urban neighborhoods without displacement and the negative sides of gentrification. It plays on Sunday, September 29 at 1:00 pm at the Roxie Theater as part of the Green Film Festival.

KQED Arts, September 23, 2019

Now Playing! SF Green Film Festival Brings It All Back Home

The simple, brilliant theme of the 2019 San Francisco Green Film Festival, which opens Wednesday, Sept. 24 at the Castro, is home. Brilliant, because our environment is wherever we live. While we’re concerned about the plastic-poisoned oceans, the burning rainforest, the fracked Northeast, they are (mostly) far away. As for the lovely sentiment that Planet Earth is humankind’s one and only home, that’s either too existential or too abstract to galvanize most of us.

Local filmmaker Dan Goldes’ generous and revelatory documentary, Five Blocks, which receives its world premiere Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1pm the Roxie, gives voice to almost every conceivable stakeholder in the planning and redevelopment of mid-Market over the last decade., September 23, 2019

The San Francisco Green Film Festival is Here and it is Awesome!

What’s manly about taking pride in actively trashing Earth’s environment?  For those who feel such behavior is an example of toxic masculinity, a creative refuge exists.  It’s the return of the San Francisco Green Film Festival (hereafter SFGFF), whose ninth edition offers more constructive stories about humanity’s relationship to the planet it lives on.

Running from September 24-29 at such venues as the Castro Theatre, Manny’s, and Piers 15 & 17, the 2019 celebration of green ideas and actions is timed to coincide with the UN Climate Action Summit as well as the Global Climate Strike.  The 60 new films and over 100 guest speakers at this year’s SFGFF will wrestle with various aspects of the ninth festival’s theme “Home.” In their individual ways, this year’s festival’s films and speakers offer different answers to the question “What does home mean to you, and how can we work together to protect it?”

To help you get started picking SFGFF films to see, here are some suggestions:

San Francisco Public Press, September 23, 2019

Documentary Explores What Shaped Mid-Market Street, Past and Present

The documentary “5 Blocks,” by Robert Cortlandt and Dan Goldes, explores the history, economic downturn and efforts to revitalize San Francisco’s mid-Market Street neighborhood, an area whose focal point is just five blocks. Goldes discusses what he learned in his conversations with neighborhood residents from different backgrounds, including an SRO dweller and a tech worker.

I think the thing that I found most striking was that, despite the fact that there is extreme poverty and extreme wealth, side by side, a lot of folks really want the same things …  a safer, cleaner neighborhood.” —  Dan Goldes, “5 Blocks” filmmaker

Bay Area Reporter, September 18, 2019

Film on SF’s Central Market Street to Premiere

There is a brief moment toward the end of the documentary “5 Blocks” where an anonymous woman can be heard screaming “Get off my block!” in the background of a shot showing traffic on Market Street near the intersection of Eighth Street.

The street-life vignette is easy to miss in the 47-minute film by directors Dan Goldes and the late Robert Cortlandt, friends who met at a weekly gay country western dance party. Yet the verbal directive encapsulates in four words what is at the heart of the film.

Begun in 2011 as city, civic, arts, and business leaders brought renewed attention to the gritty stretch of Central Market Street between Fifth and 10th streets, the film explores the tension at play in those efforts to attract new investment and businesses to the corridor while at the same time not pushing out the residents, nonprofits, and artists who have long called it home.

Mission Local, September 6, 2019

Documentary captures the ‘Twitter tax break’ years in Mid-Market

So many parallels can be drawn between Market Street and Mission Street. Both were once major theater districts. Both were torn up during the ‘60s to construct a subterranean BART line. And both were, and still are, meeting grounds for people of all stripes.

Director Dan Goldes decided to make a documentary, called “Five Blocks,” about Market Street, from 5th to 10th streets, a stretch also known as Mid-Market and famously the home of Twitter since 2012.

The film attempts to unpack why the area fell into such neglect and searches for solutions to make it “cleaner and safer” for all of its residents.

IDTV Interview with 5 Blocks Producers/Directors Dan Goldes and Robert Cortlandt

J Weekly, November 19, 2015

Talking with…A man zooming in on Market Street

J.: You’re working on a documentary film, “5 Blocks,” about the redevelopment of San Francisco’s Mid-Market area. How did that area, roughly from Fifth Street to Van Ness Avenue, fall into such decline?

Dan Goldes: For the people who’ve been living there, they would say that it’s been a thriving neighborhood. That’s the lesson I had to learn: We were calling it a run-down place. They were saying, “It’s run down, yeah, but it’s our neighborhood.”

Most people trace the real change to the construction of BART in the late 1960s, early 1970s. It took a decade, and they tore up the length of Market Street from Embarcadero all the way up to Van Ness. A lot of the neighborhood businesses suddenly found that their customers had no way to get to them, and they began moving out. At the same time, there was a rush from cities to the suburbs. The result was landlords and building owners found that they had empty buildings and they had to lower the rents.

SF Arts Monthly, September 2014

Urbanstreet Films tracks the myriad recent changes in San Francisco’s Market Street corridor.

At one time, the nexus of 6th, Taylor and Market streets in downtown San Francisco, the location of both the Golden Gate Theatre and the Warfield Theatre, was the hub for what was considered to be the city’s version of the Great White Way, say Dan Goldes and Robert Cortlandt.

The two filmmakers are having a Saturday brunch at their usual hangout, the busy sausage eatery Show Dogs on the northwest corner of 6th and Market. Amid a din of loud rock music, shrieking sirens from outside and the happy cacophony of customers, they’re discussing their documentary-in-progress, “5 Blocks.” “Rumor has it that there were tunnels going back and forth to speakeasies,” says Goldes. “It was the coolest place to be!”

Film Courage, February 6, 2013

Fellow Filmmakers Must Traverse ‘5 BLOCKS’

‘5 Blocks’, the film project about revitalizing the San Francisco central Market Street neighborhood, is a groundbreaking ‘Must Know’ for fellow Filmmakers. I got the chance to speak with Co-Producer Dan Goldes about the filmmakers’ use of cutting-edge mobile technology to tell a story long before the documentary footage is edited. Read on. This info may expand the way you imagine promoting your films.

 First, a bit about ‘5 Blocks’. This documentary captures the resurrection of the five blocks of San Francisco’s Fifth and Tenth Streets, with some attention to the streets between Market and Mission Streets, to one block north of Market. The documentary seeks to capture the revitalization, and document its impact on the changing neighborhood.

Huffington Post, December 7, 2012

‘5 Blocks’: A Cinematic Look At The Transformation of Market Street

San Francisco’s mid-Market corridor is a neighborhood in perpetual flux.

Once a grand, theater-lined boulevard, the street experienced a gradual decline in the decades following the installation of BART lines in the 1960s. It’s only in recent years that the city has really made a proactive effort to turn the neighborhood around. Arts organizations are moving in, as are hip new restaurants and retail stores. Pioneering tech companies like Twitter and Dolby are buying up office space above mid-Market’s long-shuttered storefronts.

As this push toward gentrification happens, forces are also seeking, in many ways, to apply the brakes amid concerns about economic development pricing out long-time neighborhood residents.

What’s going on in mid-Market right now is among the most interesting dynamics of the entire Bay Area and a pair of local filmmakers are looking to turn this debate over the future of the iconic street into cinematic gold.

Laughing Squid, December 3, 2012

5 Blocks, The Revitalization of San Francisco’s Central Market Street

5 Blocks is an upcoming documentary about ongoing efforts to revitalize San Francisco’s beleaguered Central Market corridor. Once the site of San Francisco’s grandest theaters, the neighborhood has since suffered from 50 years of neglect and decline. An unusual coalition of artists, city officials, property owners and residents is now working to revitalize the neighborhood—the recent arrival of Twitter and other tech companies points to a turnaround, however some stakeholders fear gentrification will destroy the cultural fabric of Central Market. The film is directed by Dan Goldes and Robert Cortlandt of Urbanstreet Films. They recently concluded a successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign, but they are still accepting donations.