West Oakland Filmmaker Serginho Roosblad is ready to showcase his documentary film on the MacArthur Maze freeway interchange appropriately titled ‘The Maze”. The film premiered at the San Francisco Urban Film Fest late last year and was recently shown at the Albany Film Fest.
Roosblad became fascinated with the history and presence of the highway structure after moving to Oakland from the Netherlands in 2016. “I immediately became aware of the elevated freeway interchange looming over the neighborhood that was going to be my home for the following two years. It was clear how one of the freeways, intended or not, acts as a physical border between the cities of Oakland and Emeryville; two towns that today are as different as night and day.”
Roosblad, who also narrates the 24 minute long doc, brings a fresh pair of eyes to a structure that for most of us is ingrained in the local landscape. Roosblad sets out to understand the impact the structure had on the surrounding area that he identifies is split neatly between “a park, a mall, a neighborhood and a port.”
“A mall” is where the documentary crosses paths with Emeryville as Roosblad visits the Annual Black Friday Ohlone protest at Bay Street. Those interviewed recount the destruction of the Emeryville shell mound in the 1920’s and the unresolved emotions that Ohlone people harbor toward it.
“The Maze” also recounts the importance of the structure for blue collar shipping industry jobs and as a transportation junction for America’s highway infrastructure fueled by the automotive industry. The interchange fueled economic growth but at the costs of splitting neighborhoods, pollution, and the daily frustrations felt by the hundreds of thousands of commuters that are stuck in it daily. “This is a physical manifestation of the rat race,” one of those interviewed aptly frames it.
“It’s the coming together of the quintessential urban American landscape in 2018,” Roosblad concludes. “Gentrification, crime, homelessness, pollution, and the opioid crisis. The areas around the MacArthur Maze, are faced with a host of challenges.”
For future screenings of the film, follow @TheMazeDoc on facebook. The film will also be broadcast and distributed by KQED in May.
The documentary includes this historic footage on the I-880 Cypress Viaduct Construction.