Liberty Kid, a new film by Purchase College alumnus Ilya Chaiken ’95, has opened to rave reviews. The film, written and directed by Ms. Chaiken, has won high praise from The New York Times, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly, and was named a “Critic’s Pick” by New York Magazine.
Liberty Kid tells the story of two young friends struggling to survive after losing their jobs at the Statue of Liberty tourist site due to 9/11. Derrick, courted by Army recruiters, seeks a life outside of their Brooklyn neighborhood, while Tico leads him on a detour into the street-hustling life.
This is the second feature written and directed by Ms. Chaiken, whose acclaimed debut feature, Margarita Happy Hour premiered at Sundance 2001 and proceeded to such prestigious festivals as Los Angeles and Toronto before receiving distribution from Wellspring. She returned to Sundance in 2004 with the comedic short “The 100 Lovers of Jesus Reynolds.” Ms. Chaiken first received attention for her short films “The Actress,” and “Match Flick,” and was granted a Statue Award for artistic excellence in film from the Princess Grace Foundation.
“Liberty Kid is a convergence of many New York stories,” explained Ms. Chaiken. “9/11 affected us all in the most profound ways, but also in the day-to-day manner in which we had to live through those first years. Like most artists in the aftermath of 9/11, I was frustrated by the silencing of voices and disenfranchisement of the anti-war movement. I was looking to write a story through which I could explore the ramifications and contradictions of going to war in Iraq. I also wanted to capture a part of New York City that is getting pushed further and further into the outer boroughs; to depict a neighborhood that still has an identity. My hope is that Liberty Kid will add to the continuing dialogue about the misused connection between 9/11 and the Iraq War, about immigration and about the need for the government to care for those drawn into this conflict.”