Fire Through Dry Grass uncovers in real-time, and with singular access, the devastation experienced by residents of a New York City nursing home during the coronavirus pandemic. Co-Directors Alexis Neophytides and Andres “Jay” Molina take viewers inside Coler, on Roosevelt Island, where Jay lives with his fellow Reality Poets, a group of mostly gun violence survivors. Wearing snapback caps and Air Jordans, Jay and the other Reality Poets don’t look like typical nursing home residents. They used to travel around the city sharing their art and hard-earned wisdom with youth. Now, using GoPros clamped to their wheelchairs, they document their harrowing experiences on “lock down.” Covid-positive patients are moved into their bedrooms; nurses fashion PPE out of garbage bags; refrigerated-trailer morgues hum outside residents’ windows. All the while public officials deny the suffering and dying behind Coler’s brick walls. The Reality Poets’ rhymes flow throughout the film, underscoring their feelings that their home is now as dangerous as the streets they once ran and—as summer turns to fall turns to winter—that they’re prisoners without a release date. But instead of history repeating itself on this tiny island with a dark history of institutional neglect and abandonment, Fire Through Dry Grass shows these disabled Black and brown artists refusing to be abused, confined, erased.
Alexis Neophytides | Co-Director, Producer
Alexis is a documentary filmmaker and educator whose work centers around community and how we find meaning in people and place. She is the co-creator, co-director and producer of Neighborhood Slice, a public television documentary series that tells the stories of longtime New Yorkers who've held onto their little corner of the city despite fast-growing gentrification. She produced and directed the series 9.99, for which she won a NY Emmy, and is currently in post-production on two feature length documentaries, Dear Thirteen and Fire Through Dry Grass. Over the past decade she has developed filmmaking programs and taught students of all ages throughout NYC. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MA in Media Studies from The New School.
Andres “Jay” Molina | Co-Director
Andres "Jay'' Molina left the Dominican Republic in his late teens for New York's Lower East Side. In 2014, Jay developed a rare lung condition that attacked his vital organs and left him paralyzed. A former baseball player and truck driver, today Jay is nourishing a passion for filmmaking and animation, and being of service and advocate for people living with disabilities. His poetry and writings have been published in NYU’s Literacy Review, The Wire, and Wheeling & Healing: A Poetry Anthology Edited by OPEN DOORS Reality Poets, and he’s a recipient of the NYC Mayor’s Office Safe In The City Grant.