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When residents of the Liberty Square public-housing community in Miami learn about a $300 million revitalization project, they know that the sudden interest comes from the fact that their neighborhood is located on the highest and driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a growing form of racial injustice—climate gentrification.



As rising seas threaten Miami’s luxurious beachfront, wealthy property owners are pushing inland to higher ground. Residents of the historically Black neighborhood of Liberty Square—the first segregated public housing project in the South—are the new target of an upcoming “revitalization” project due to their location 12 feet above sea level. From Academy Award nominated filmmaker Katja Esson, Razing Liberty Square shares perspectives from all angles— residents, community advocates, teachers, developers,, and politicians—following the redevelopment from start to finish. Miami is experiencing sea level rise before much of the country, but communities across the US are facing changes similar to the dramatic shifts happening in Liberty Square as the climate crisis exacerbates the affordable housing crisis and the impact of systemic racism.

“I have a problem with them tearing down Liberty Square. Liberty Square is the heart and when you destroy the heart, you destroy this community. You destroy the people. You’re not going to see people that look like me staying in these projects.”    - Samantha Quarterman, film participant, Razing Liberty Square 

“People think that climate change or environmental things are not a Black people’s issue, but one thing I learned about climate is that it affects us in the worst ways.”  -Valencia Gunder, climate activist and film participant, Razing Liberty Square 

“The story of Liberty Square is also a cautionary tale of the future of many low-income communities in the face of climate change displacement. It's a story of racial segregation and a haunting reminder of Jim Crow laws.” - Lena Simet, senior researcher and advocate, Poverty and Inequality, Human Rights Watch


Katja Esson


Katja Esson is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker based in Miami. Known for her intimate character-driven documentaries tackling race, class, and gender, her credits include FERRY TALES which turns the unlikely setting of the Staten Island Ferry Powder Room into a celebration of sisterhood (HBO 2004). In 2007, HOLE IN THE SKY - THE SCARS OF 9/11 received the Gold-Award at the World-Media-Festival. Her 2011 film SKYDANCER, about two Mohawk ironworkers torn between the Akwesasne reservation and New York City, received nominations for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography at the Shanghai Film Festival and premiered on PBS and ARTE in 2011. Katja’s POETRY OF RESILIENCE was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award in 2012. Her five-part documentary series BACKROADS USA (2014) and AMERICAN RIVERS (2016) premiered on ARTE and PBS in 2018. A Simons-Public Humanities Fellow at Kansas University, her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian. Katja’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Knight Foundation, ITVS, IDA Enterprise, NYSCA, the Redford Center, Sundance and the Ford Foundation.

Ann Bennett


Ann Bennett is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody-nominated documentary filmmaker, multimedia producer and nonfiction storyteller who has devoted her career to telling diverse stories through film, television, interactive projects, installations, and live events. She produced the NAACP Image Award–winning documentary Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, as well as the multiplatform community engagement initiative Digital Diaspora Family Reunion. Ann is currently producer on the feature-length documentary RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE about Climate Gentrification in Miami, Florida. Bennett’s past film credits include Citizen King and Fisk Jubilee Singers for the PBS series American Experience, Hymn for Alvin Ailey for Dance in America, Detroit 48202: Conversations Along A Postal Route for the World Channel, and the award-winning PBS miniseries Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. Bennett holds a master’s degree from the Columbia Journalism School and graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies. She has won fellowships with Sundance Creative Producing Lab, Impact Partners, Laundromat Project Create Change, Culture Push's Black Utopian Practice, Jackson Wild Multicultural Alliance Fellowship and the DOC NYC’s Documentary New Leaders program. Bennett’s multi platform projects explore the nexus of history, culture, disability and technology within multicultural communities.

Corinna Sager


Corinna Sager  ( Producer ) is an international, award-winning director/producer. She produced Katja Esson’s Academy Award nominated short documentary “Ferry Tales”, which was broadcast on HBO and ARTE, and “Poetry of Resilience”, which received support from the National Foundation for the Arts and was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award at the Berlinale. Corinna founded and led “Stories from the Field”, the United Nations Documentary Film Festival focused on the Millennium Development Goals in partnership with the UN Department of Public Information and The New School. Since 2010 Corinna has also taught and developed courses at Pace University’s Digital Media and Communications Master’s Program. Most recently she created “Let’s Be Frank”, a discussion series focused on the challenges of America’s ‘melting pot’, which she is currently developing to become a regular series.

Ronald Baez


Ronald Baez ( Producer - Miami ) is a Caribbean-American screenwriter, director, and award-winning immersive media artist from Miami, FL. His most recent film project, SCENES FROM OUR YOUNG MARRIAGE, premiered at the Borscht and Miami Film Festivals, before being distributed PBS Broadcasting and Seed&Spark Online SVOD. Baez was awarded the Fledgling Fund's Rapid Deployment Grant in 2018 for his doc series about global warming and sea level rise in Miami, KING TIDE. Hew also received the NAB Futures Innovator's Award in 2019 for his ongoing immersive reality projects produced in collaboration with the University of Florida's MET Lab. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the After School Film Institute, a nonprofit organization mentoring at risk, inner-city students in South Florida.