Razing Liberty Square

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Film phase:Completed


Miami is ground-zero for sea-level-rise. When residents of the Liberty Square public-housing community learn about a $300 million revitalization project in 2015, they soon discover that this sudden interest comes from the fact that their neighborhood is located on the highest-and-driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a new form of racial injustice – Climate Gentrification.

Razing Liberty Square is a character-driven verité documentary that weaves personal stories in and out of the larger social justice narrative. Foremost it is about a community fighting to save itself from being erased in a rapidly changing Miami.

Razing Liberty Square is a 2022 Critical Issues Fund grantee.



Katja Esson standing in profile to the camera. She is looking off camera to her right and is wearing a coat. Background is out of focus. Black and white portrait.

Katja Esson (she/her) is an Academy Award® nominated filmmaker based in Miami. Known for her intimate character-driven documentaries tackling race, class, and gender, her credits include HBO short documentary Ferry Tales which turns the unlikely setting of the Staten Island Ferry Powder Room into a celebration of sisterhood (2004). In 2007, Hole in the Sky – The Scars of 9/11 received the Gold Award at the World Media Festival. Her 2011 film Skydancer, about two Mohawk ironworkers torn between the Akwesasne reservation and New York City, received nominations for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography at the Shanghai Film Festival and premiered on PBS and ARTE in 2011. Katja’s Poetry of Resilience was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award in 2012. Her five-part documentary series Backroads USA (2014) and American Rivers (2016) premiered on ARTE and PBS in 2018. A Simons-Public Humanities Fellow at Kansas University, her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian. Katja’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Knight Foundation, ITVS, IDA Enterprise, NYSCA, the Redford Center, Sundance and the Ford Foundation. 




Ann Bennett looking directly at the camera. She is wearing a necklace and earrings and is placing her hand against her face. Black and white portrait.Ann Bennett (she/her) is an Emmy® nominated documentary filmmaker, multimedia producer, and teaching artist who has devoted her career to telling diverse stories through film, television, museum installations, and interactive live events. She produced the NAACP Image Award-winning documentary, Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers And The Emergence Of A People as well as the multi-platform community engagement initiative, Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR). Ann’s film credits include Citizen King and Fisk Jubilee Singers for the PBS series American Experience, Hymn For Alvin Ailey for Dance in America, and the award-winning PBS mini-series Africans In America and America’s War On Poverty. Ann’s passion for nonfiction storytelling is matched only by her commitment to teaching and mentoring young people and students of all ages. She is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School and Harvard College, and she was a Laundromat Project Create Change Fellow in 2019. Recently, Ann was an Impact Partners Documentary Producers Fellow and a Sundance Producers Lab fellow with Razing Liberty Square.


Corinna Sager looking directly at the camera. She has shoulder-length light brown hair and is wearing a scarf. Black and white portrait.Corinna Sager is an international, award-winning director/producer. She produced Katja Esson’s Academy Award nominated short documentary Ferry Tales, which was broadcast on HBO and ARTE, and Poetry of Resilience, which received support from the National Foundation for the Arts and was nominated for the Cinema for Peace Award at the Berlinale. Corinna founded and led Stories from the Field, the United Nations Documentary Film Festival focused on the Millennium Development Goals in partnership with the UN Department of Public Information and The New School. Since 2010 Corinna has also taught and developed courses at Pace University’s Digital Media and Communications Master’s Program. Most recently she created Let’s Be Frank, a discussion series focused on the challenges of America’s ‘melting pot’, which she is currently developing to become a regular series.

Ronald Baez looking directly at the camera. He is sitting on a bench and is leaning forward. He has a full beard and is wearing a hooded jacket. A figure can be seen seated in the out of focus background. Black and white portrait.Ronald Baez (he/him) is the Miami Producer. He is a screenwriter, director, and award-winning immersive media artist born and raised in Miami, Florida. His most recent film project, Scenes from our Young Marriage, premiered at the Borscht and Miami Film Festivals before being distributed by PBS Broadcasting and Seed&Spark Online SVOD. Baez was awarded the Fledgling Fund’s Rapid Deployment Grant in 2018 for his doc series about global warming and sea level rise in Miami, King Tide. He also received the NAB Futures Innovator’s Award in 2019 for his ongoing immersive reality projects produced in collaboration with the University of Florida’s MET Lab. Baez serves as the Artistic Director of the After School Film Institute, a nonprofit organization mentoring at-risk, inner-city students in South Florida.