Downtown for sale

In Madrid, a neighbourhood that has become the new spot struggles to protect its essence. The new owners say "city centre is not for poor people."

The streets are surprisingly clean. Cultural offers overflow, the terraces bloom in spring and tourists have become the new neighbours. Everything is for sale. Everything is branded. And now, the hottest brand is Lavapies. Our city chose for turistization as a pillar of the economy.

This is the story of the last Mohicans. They organise and fight. They do not want to lose the battle. They refuse to be the last generation to know and enjoy what living in a neighbourhood really means.

  • Paola Rey
  • Paola Rey
  • David Losada
  • David Losada
  • Xavi Alías
  • Piluka Aranguren
  • Bruno
  • Ysabel Castro
    Design and Animations
  • Lin Chang
    Sound Editor
  • Jon Corcuera - Gradepunk
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Compramos tu barrio
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 31, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    118,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Muestra de Cine de Lavapiés
    June 23, 2019
    Spain premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Paola Rey

Paola Rey is a Colombian filmmaker and editor base in Madrid. Graduated in Social Communication at P.U.J., Bogotá and Master in Digital Cinematography at ECAM, Madrid. She worked as an editor, script and director’s assistant in documentaries, advertising and movies for National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Sony Entertainment TV, Greenpeace or Netflix more recently.
As filmmaker, she’s finishing her first-time long feature documentary “Downtown for Sale”, about neighbourhood value and cities's merchandising.

Cheerful, resolute, fast, sensitive and precise could define her and the way she edits stories.

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Director Statement

I'm Paola Rey, director and neighbour of this place. I had to leave Lavapies, a neighbourhood that I’ve loved and enjoyed for 9 years. I meet with my neighbours to talk and analyse the "Death foretold of the last neighbourhood in the centre of Madrid". I’ve followed during a year its transformation on one side and the struggle of its community to protect their neighbourhood on the other. I’ve captured the crucial moments of this recently called “best neighbourhood in the world” according to the magazine "TimeOut", which, we’ve always thought, was immune to speculation.

Lavapies is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Madrid, one of the few remaining in downtown. Its history is marked by the reception and organization of national and then international migrants. It is known as the UN of Madrid; 88 nationalities exist side-by-side there. It is famous for its political activity, associative activity and neighbouring activity. I capture the essence of a place with more than 600 years of history.
The camera is me, a sensitive camera that records the life of the neighbourhood with a certain nostalgia. I look out at the doors, windows and corners. I build an intimate dialogue with the characters and share painful reflections. All reflect the diversity of faces, ages and languages that defines the neighbourhood.
The sound is the town. Birds that announce the beginning of the morning next to the market that opens its doors; neighbours who cross and greet each other in the street and the voices of hundreds of emigrants who go out to work or take their children to school. That same direct record leads to the transformation of the neighbourhood: foreign voices and sounds of luggages crossing the streets.
The edition is purist and obvious. A melodic story is created through the polyphony of the voices that take us into the life of the neighbourhood and its transformation and the difficulties to continue living in. It is a montage that transits the film from the traditional to the modern. It has a pedagogical approach so that people understand the different aspects of that struggle between economy and humanity.

"The territories are sold or licensed by the State to private companies, leaving the land, water and ecosystems in the hands of the industry. Lands that were communal pass into the hands of resorts ... Local knowledge, when not exploited commercially, is despised. Roads are destroyed, the land is asphalted ... The price of land also rises and real estate speculation displaces local people." - Fucking Tourists, 2017, Editorial Antipersona.

Cities have become the ideal and most popular place to live. The prediction is that "two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050," according to the UN.

Preserving social diversity in the neighbourhoods and in the city, and avoiding historical loss are the great challenges as a society to protect life in the city centre.