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Published on May 18, 2008
In 2000, developers purchase the crumbling, century-old Gladstone hotel to turn it from skid row flophouse to arts and music hotspot. They think it's empty... until they meet Marilyn, the chambermaid with a heart of gold; Shirley Ann, the cynical front desk clerk; and a motley crew of residents, including Maryanne, a sweet ex-bag lady who has turned her room into a toxic zone. Staff and residents—some who have been there for over 30 years—worry they'll be squeezed out during the hotel's imminent revitalization.
The developers' plan— a gradual restoration with staff and residents remaining upstairs, while downstairs the bar serves designer drinks to new, affluent clientele—doesn't work. When experimental film-maker, Christina Zeidler inherits the mess and forms a "business model that includes social change," the hotel has the last word. City inspectors demand complete rewiring, the boiler blows up leaving the hotel without heat, ceilings leak, walls are crumbling and Zeidler now has to decide what to do.
Shot over five years in a cinema direct style, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel is an intimate portrait of the effects of urban renewal on the poor—a compelling tale of urban conflict put under the lens of class, money and social consciousness, chronicling a heart breaking clash of cultures between down at the heels hotel residents, artists and developers. More than a story about haves versus have-nots, this film exposes a pattern of displacement repeated in cities worldwide, and reveals the unintentional roles we often play in the process of gentrification.