The Place That Makes Us
The Place That Makes Us
The Place That Makes Us
The Place That Makes Us

The Place That Makes Us

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    • Directed by: Karla Murthy
    • Released: 2021 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2020
Running Time: 69 min
Language: English
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: American Studies, Socioeconomics

Filmed over the course of three years, this documentary film is an intimate and inspiring portrait of Youngstown Ohio, a quintessential post-industrial American city, seen through the efforts of a new generation of residents who have chosen not to abandon their hometown, as so many have, but to stay, rebuild and make a life for themselves.

Unlike their parents, haunted and traumatized by watching their way of life crumble around them, these young leaders and community activists grew up in the remains. Unbeholden to the memory of Youngstown’s heyday, they are able to envision a new future. Interweaving archival footage and home movies of a prosperous but forgone past, this film is a poetic testimony to the profound resilience and dedication it takes to change a community.

Karla Murthy’s directorial debut is a hopeful meditation on the meaning of the American dream today. It’s about home. It’s about roots. It’s about the place that makes us.


WINNER BEST OF THE FEST - Arlington International Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION - St. Louis International Film Festival


OFFICIAL SELECTION - River's Edge International Film Festival

TOP TEN FILMS - Big Sky Film Festival


Reviews and Press

"While this documentary illustrates what The Youngstown Development Corporation along with local community and city council members are trying to do to revive their community, it also shows what ‘civic engagement’ really means: working to make a difference in the civic life of "our" collective communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. This documentary shows the slow, painstaking process of getting Any Town, USA back on its feet." -Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York


About the filmmaker

Karla Murthy is an Emmy-nominated producer and has been working on news documentaries for over 15 years. She began her career working for the veteran journalist Bill Moyers and has been a staff producer, shooter and correspondent for several news programs on PBS.  Her award-winning work was described in the Columbia Journalism Review as “compelling, informative and compassionate.” 

Her directorial debut, the feature documentary The Place That Makes Us has won numerous film festival awards and will make its national broadcast premiere on America ReFramed in Spring 2021.

Karla is of Filipino and South Asian descent. She grew up in Texas studying classical piano and graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Religion and Computer Science. She is an alum of the Third World Newsreel Workshop, the Documentary Institute at Antioch College in Ohio.  She and her husband Jad Abumrad, creator of the public radio show RadioLab live in New York City with their two children.


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