Division Ave is an award winning short film written and co-produced by Michal Birnbaum.
The piece is the fruit of the collaboration with Lorena Rodriguez. The two met in theatre school and continued to work together after graduating. The Majority of professionals involved in the project are women, including director Tamar Glezerman, cinematographer Meg Kettell and editor Jessica Kingdon.
Division Ave won Best Drama and Honorable Mention awards in California and New York festivals. It screened in over 25 film festivals including Washington DC International Film Festival and NYC Independent Film Festival. International screenings include the UK, Russia, Mexico and Colombia.
The project raised over 15K on Kickstarter , received a finishing grant from the Puffin Foundation and participated in Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program. It was featured in the Daily News, NY1’s morning show, RCN channel and more.
A few days before Passover, Fernanda, a young Mexican woman, is hired by a Brooklyn cleaning agency to work in the local Jewish Hasidic community. Despite a prolonged wait for her payment, Fernanda continues to faithfully show up for work each day at Nechama’s house. An unexpected connection between the two leads to a fight for justice against the cleaning agency at fault, bridging the gaps between their very different worlds.
The story behind Division Ave is inspired by true events happening to this day on the corner of Division & Marcy Ave in Brooklyn, NY. This modern day slave labor started decades ago in the early 1990’s, in a different Williamsburg location. It is common practice for individuals and companies to frequent Division & Marcy early in the morning and hire a cleaning lady for the day. The women, mostly immigrants from Latin America and Eastern Europe, are often underpaid and/or sexually abused.
In The Press
Michal Birnbaum and Haaretz journalist, Neta Alexander, visit the corner of Marcy & Division Ave and talk about immigration, poverty, and women’s role in the Jewish and Latino communities in Brooklyn.
“Inspiration can strike at any moment. For screenwriter and actor Michal Birnbaum, the plotline for “Division Ave,” came at a local synagogue… Birnbaum instinctively knew there was more to this story, and thus began her research.”