WHEN YOU'RE DRIVING YOUR CAR AT 100MPH, YOU'RE NOT REALLY DRIVING IT, YOU'RE AIMING IT
(Department of Motor Vehicles pamphlet)
An experimental documentary about the street drag racing scene on Chicago’s near West Side.
This is a rambling, textured film about obsession. It is about the mythos of speed for its own sake, and it is about waiting. While waiting, The BLVD exposes community, inner-city landscapes and nomadic experiences of place. The film treats storytelling as a living medium for determining history. And it commands respect for those who transform cars, or anything else, through passion.
Awards Athens Int’l Film/Video Fest: best documentary
“[A] gorgeous experimental documentary about Chicago street drag racing. There’s a certain animosity to aestheticism in art that questions its own social function, a desire to strip away distracting or seductive decoration and get to the point...Stratman’s film makes it clear that beauty and sociopolitical engagements are not mutually exclusive domains.” - Doug Harvey, LA Weekly, 2005
“With a painter’s eye and a storyteller’s love of the great yarn, Stratman gives us a portrait of a sub-culture inside Chicago’s Black community that really puts us in that place at that time. ...Stratman brings her own personality to the work and interaction with the filmmaker becomes an important part of her telling of the tale. Stratman’s love of detail and of her subjects, not to mention their respect for her in return, give The BLVD an immediacy that transcends any technology.” - Mark Rance, Film Forum LA
"Deborah Stratman’s The Blvd (March 12, 6:15 p.m.) isn’t as rich, subtle or varied a look at a subculture as BookWars, but it’s just as much fun and much more conventionally exciting. It’s a portrait of street drag racing in Chicago, choked with detail and chock-full of anecdotes by veteran racers (and family members, and bettors). Stratman’s film mythologizes the hot-rod obsession even as it recalls some of the saddest early Springsteen songs, about guys who race to get away from straight society but end up spinning their wheels in eternal adolescence." - Matt Zoller Seitz, pdf
Originally published: New York Press, 2000