111 First Street from paris to jersey city they showed no love


Back in the years 2003-2004, Documentary Filmmaker Branko, started doing a documentary film on the work of the artists working and living in artists studios, at a four square blocks, semi-abandoned deposit and warehouse, which had been converted to studio spaces in the 1990’s, located at 111 First Street, Jersey City, New Jersey.

Branko mentions: “Back in those days, the place

was a dump with walls, nobody wanted to rent

there, it was not made for human residences”

After some months of work on the Documentary,

and months  before the artists left the building in

the year 2005, Branko shelved the project.

He needed time to look after his own private life.

It had nothing to do with the politics and

controversy surrounding the City of Jersey City,

the landlord and the resident artists.

Branko mentions: “I make Documentaries, that I

know have a positive social influence, I don’t go

after who robbed what, who killed whom, etc.;

the world is full of that. I am a Bible believing Christian, and just like the Quakers, Calvinists, Huguenots of the past, who prayed and dedicated their beautiful works to Jehovah, I do likewise. My humble work, is my prayer to the Lord.”

This documentary deals exclusively with the art made and/or performed by the artists.

Branko says: “Who remembers the building owners or politicians in 1920’s Paris, where artists such as Modigliani, Chagall, Lipchitz, Soutine, Brancusi, Rivera, Man Ray, Kisling, Picasso, Juan Gris, Matisse, Apollinaire, Braque, and the rest..., made their art flourish?”


“The same will happen, as the legend of the artists of 111 First Street grows. Their art quality, will make them eternal.”

“Working Artists are creating now, what the rest of us normal human beings, will only be able to appreciate, in 20-30 years.”

As a side note, while Branko was recording at 111 First Street, Branko requested an appointment with Mayor Sharpe James of Newark, regarding a building donation to the 111 First Street artists. Two representatives of the artists, Bill Rodwell and Shandor Hassan, went to that meeting with Branko and Branko’s friend, Marco T. Azevedo.

At that meeting, the highest officer of Newark’s City Hall, dealing with Urban Development, told the artists, that the City of Newark would welcome them, he told them to “go and find an available big city owned building, which the City would transfer to the artists for a nominal fee of $1000.

The artists did not pursue this offer.

Mr. Bill Rodwell  on an email sent to Branko on Oct. 22, 2012: “I also remember meeting you and having lunch in Newark one day when Shandor Hassan and I were there to explore whether or not Newark would be a plausible alternative when we lost our fight in JC.”

In the year 2012, at the anniversary of September 11, Branko starts looking for film he had recorded on September 11, 2001.

He had recorded many hours at Ground Zero, World Trade Center.

On September 12, 2001, while working as a freelance journalist, he had turned over some of that material to his contact-producer, at Globo International, in New York City. Globo is one of the major TV Networks in Brazil, and Branko had in the past, made available several recordings, for Globo to use in their newscasts.

The rest of the Ground Zero recordings, Branko placed in a box, and put it away, the trauma of what he had seen at ground zero, kept him from seeing this material until the year 2012.

Branko began to understand his situation, when photographer

Peter Turnley, at a workshop that Branko attended, related his own

traumatic experience, as Turnley spent the night at Ground Zero, on

9-11-2001, being similar to what Branko had done in front of

Building 7.

Branko: “As Mr. Turnley related his 911 experience, his voice broke

and cried. I was also crying”

For years, on September 11, Branko went to the Ground Zero site

and aimlessly walked around.

On September 11, 2012, as he was at the site, he found a group of people giving pamphlets about the 911 inside job story, and at their mention of Building 7, WTC, Branko told them, building 7, originally had been at a different location, that it was made new, on a new location. As the group insisted that the location had not changed, Branko said: “I know it did, I was there”

Branko says: “If this group had the facts wrong, imagine the rest of the people. It was absolutely important, for the facts of Building 7, to be shown to the world”

That night, he went looking for the recordings he had made on 9-11-2001, and started editing the material, for nights at a time. Soon he had the final product, which he is also releasing at this time, the Documentary Movie, 911 Number 7.

While recovering the 911 recordings, he also found the 111 First Street material, and after editing the 911 Documentary, he started editing the 111 Movie. He went once more to the 111 First Street site, during the 2012 Artists Studio Tour, found a couple of the former artists, one of them, Norm Fracoeur, was kind enough to give Branko a final interview, on the spot.

The 111 cycle had been completed and the Documentary is now ready for screening.

Branko says: “The 111 artists deserve this movie as a homage to their work, their serious commitment to their art, their sacrifice for the greater good. It will take people many years to process who they really were, and what positive influence they had in society, For me, they are my heroes. A big thank you to all of you.”

“Because of the many years that have elapsed, It has turned out to be a long term project."

The 111 First Street building, was located at the Powerhouse Arts District, Jersey City or WALDO neighborhood zone. You could say that landlords and politicians had created this Art Zone, to fill the empty abandoned warehouses, with working artists. They couldn’t rent the spaces as apartments, and companies did not want to rent as warehouse or work space. When this land became valuable, the politicians and landlords, unceremoniously declared the artists persona non-grata. They removed the Art Zone and historic building designations and passed new ones to allow new upper class, residential construction.

First remove the artists, then the low income group, then the middle class, you get the idea.

At the 111 First Street building, there were painters, sculptors, photographers, music studios, music bands, art galleries, printers, filmmakers, writers, poets, cabinet makers, etc.; some Americans and others from various countries. 

The building was demolished in 2007.

This movie is a historical document of a substantial concentration of artists in the same location-building, in the US.

The movie does raise a parallel to Vincent van Gogh's Studio (The Yellow House, Arles, France 1888); where Van Gogh wanted to create an utopian artists' colony. Also, in Paris, France (Early 20th-century); numerous artists lived and worked in ateliers, sometimes in the same building. See, Le Bateau-Lavoir, La Ruche.

In the history of mankind, this location compares to a few places, where so much artistic talent has been housed at the same place and time.

The legend of the artists of 111 First Street, is ever influential with the passage of time.

The viewer can enter this wonderful utopia, and make his own conclusions.

This movie, is Branko's fifth feature documentary film.

Branko is an independent filmmaker.

       Newark’s Mayor, Sharpe James & Branko                     Mr. Peter Turnley & Branko


Jersey City Free Public Library

Biblioteca Criolla, 4th. Floor

472 Jersey Avenue

Jersey City, NJ 07302

For more info, email

a branko documentary film                                 Available on amazon


           William Rodwell

Takafumi Shimuka

Faizulla Khamraev

Shaandor Hassan

Elizabeth Onorato

Charles Chamot

Kelly Darr

Tomomi Ono

Henry Sanchez

Kurt Von Ellers

Ana Velazquez

Minako Yoshino

Lisa Portnoff

Margo Pelletier

Lee Perry

Kit Sailer

Charles Farless

Jose Badosa

Mirea Gibert

Erdir Zat

Nancy Wells

Maggie Ens

Mike Smith

Norm Francoeur

Boris Arkady Kheyman

Kevin Mayer

Naomi Campbell

Edward Fausty

Domingos Fialho

Ron English

Marc Sloan

Barbara Sullivan

Paul Sullivan

Anastasia Zeleznaya

Jessica Lenard

Werner Bargsten

Kathe Frantz

Wei Jane Chir

Nicola Stemmer

Music by                Cesar Vuksic

Editing by              Branko

Release date(s)     December 2012

Running time        133 minutes

Country                 United States

Language              English

Additional appearances

Bret Schundler

George Aviles, Esq.

Bill Kraus

US Senator Bob Menendez

Thomas de Gise, Hudson County Exec.

Bernard Kenny, NJ State Senator

Cesar Vuksic, Pianist

Maria Benjumeda

Tris McCall, journalist/writer

American Watercolor Movement

Damn Glad

Manhattan Samba

Joelma, Samba Dancer

Nayra de Souza

Teco, Skating Champion

Movie Poster by: Nyugen E. Smith