Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Secret Mall Apartment’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies by - May 05, 2024
Hot Docs 2024: Our Review of ‘Secret Mall Apartment’

The story of a group of people creating an apartment in an empty space of a large mall in Providence, Rhode Island seems like a premise from a sitcom perhaps.  In fact watching them move a couch awkwardly up a steep staircase is somewhat reminiscent of that famed Friends episode (pivot!).  And yet a group of eight artists did just that.  From 2003 to 2007 hidden away in the labyrinth of the mall behind the shiny storefronts, a forgotten room was made into a Secret Mall Apartment, complete with Playstation, china cabinet and table amongst its amenities.

As the artists are interviewed, Secret Mall Apartment comments on capitalism, gentrification, and privilege amongst other themes. It did have something to say and a purpose to those involved.  Recreating the apartment for the film becomes a somewhat whimsical time capsule for the participants and it’s clear that they have only fond memories of what they built.  The project clearly influences them still in their artistic endeavours.

Director Jeremy Workman certainly spends a good deal of the film creating an almost ‘reverse heist’ vibe while the artists set up their domestic space, but he also goes a lot deeper. The main subject of the film is Michael Townsend, the common thread that connects these people together.  In getting to know Townsend, generous is his outreach, we also see how art can impact the community as he brings his unique style of tape art to children’s hospitals or to Oklahoma for the tenth anniversary of the bombing.  Townsend fully believes that art is everywhere, and his vision is inspiring.  Secret Mall Apartment really explores our relationship with art and how the line between life and art is blurred.  And if nothing else, you’ll never look at masking tape the same way again.

This post was written by
Hillary is a Toronto based writer, though her heart often lives in her former home of London, England. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, though it was seeing Jurassic Park as a kid that really made it a passion. She has been writing about film since 2010 logging plenty of reviews and interviews since then, especially around festival season. She has previously covered the London Film Festival, TIFF (where she can often be found frantically running between venues) and most recently Sundance (from her couch). She is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. When she’s not watching films or writing about them, she can be found at her day job as a veterinarian. Critic and vet is an odd combination, but it sure is a great conversation starter at an interview or festival!
Comments are closed.
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-61364310-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');