Fire Through Dry Grass
Fire Through Dry Grass
Fire Through Dry Grass

Fire Through Dry Grass

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    • Directed by:  Andres "Jay'' Molina & Alexis Neophytides
    • Released: 2022 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2021
Running Time: 90 min
Language: English,
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Race Power and Privilege, Accessibility Studies

Fire Through Dry Grass uncovers in real-time 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.

Winner Best Feature Documentary at Blackstar Film Festival 2023
AWARD WINNER  Hernandez/Bayliss Prize For Triumph Of The Human Spirit at Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival 

“The feature documentary jury-award winning film stands strong as an investigative report with its concise clarity and unique perspective, yet it’s also stylized beautifully as a tapestry that weaves the characters together. With its brilliant approach, the jury wishes to recognize the many challenges these filmmakers faced in these conditions during this time period, yet made a film with elevated sound design, compelling cinematography, and phenomenal characters.” - Blackstar Film Festival Jury Member

About the filmmaker 



Andres "Jay'' Molina grew up in the Dominican Republic where he played minor league ball. In his late teens he left the D.R. for New York's Lower East Side with dreams of going to college. Jay put school on hold, working twelve-hour days to support himself and his mother. In his late twenties, Jay found a way to make more money in a day than his whole paycheck driving a truck. He started selling drugs and spent time in prison all the while neglecting his health. In 2014 Jay developed a rare lung condition that attacked his vital organs and took his ability to walk. Today Jay is nourishing a passion for filmmaking and animation, and being of service to and advocating for people living with disabilities. His poetry and writings have been published in NYU’s Literacy Review, The Main Street Wire and Wheeling & Healing: A Poetry Anthology Edited by OPEN DOORS Reality Poets. He’s a recipient of the 2020 NYC Mayor’s Office Safe In The City Grant.

Alexis Neophytides is a documentary filmmaker and educator based in New York City. Her 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. Her work has been funded by Field of Vision, IDA, Perspective, Fork Films, Working Films and ITVS. Her first feature-length documentary, Dear Thirteen, premiered at DOC NYC in 2022. She is a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Grantee for her second feature, Fire Through Dry Grass, co-directed with Andres “Jay” Molina. Over the past decade she has developed filmmaking programs, implemented curricula and taught students all around NYC. In 2019 Alexis was a visiting artist for OPEN DOORS, where she met the Reality Poets and began working with Jay. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MA in Media Studies from The New School.


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