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Waltham Film Factory Screening: Voices from the Basement

Filene's Basement: 10 Years On

In 2007, the legendary downtown store closed its doors with plans to reopen two years later after a major redevelopment.  As the economy tanked, a gaping hole in Downtown Crossing sat for five years and the project was sold off.  Filene’s Basement filed for bankruptcy, and that markdown was final. 

Voices from the Basement, the inspiration of executive producer Dr. Susan Edbril, and filmmaker Michael Bavaro (director of last season’s screening, Rex Trailer’s Boomtown) present their documentary film about Boston’s beloved 100-year-old icon – the original Filene’s Basement. The film is a journey back to a time when the American Dream was accessible to everyone who walked through the doors of The Basement. The Brahmins of Beacon Hill stood in line with the waitresses from Durgin Park with equal access to the same high-quality, discounted merchandise for which The Basement is best known worldwide.

The film is a collection of stories told by the people who worked and shopped in there. Celebrities, politicians, employees, and loyal shoppers share their passion for this landmark institution that has been one of Boston’s most visited tourist attractions for generations.

The history of Filene’s Basement is captured through newsreels, archival footage, vintage photographs and audio recordings. The founders, Edward and Lincoln Filene, were two of the leading retail pioneers who helped shape many of the social and economic paradigms that have made America great, from employee health care to the formation of credit unions.

Throughout the course of production, the producers were witness to history as it transpired. With the closing of the downtown store in 2007, they were there to capture it all. Sadly, this monument of commerce opened a stubborn, gaping hole in the ground, and in the hearts of millions. The film explores this social and political tragedy.

Following the screening, there will be and open discussion with the audience, led by filmmaker Michael Bavaro and executive producer Dr. Susan Edbril, an opportunity for all present to ask questions and share their personal memories and experiences of the legendary Filene's Basement.