SCA student Khidr Joseph’s short film explores the realities of gentrification

Khir Joseph SCA '17Clapping for the Wrong Reasons is a documentary that asks hard questions about gentrification in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood that Sage College of Albany art student Khidr Joseph ’17 calls home.

Joseph took photography classes at New York University and the International Center of Photography as a high school student. His ICP class was assigned to document gentrification in Harlem. Over the course of that project, Joseph realized that redevelopment was changing the character of his own community.

When he began working with Reel Works – a filmmaking and mentoring program for New York City teens – it had just received a grant from Con Edison, to teach video to teenagers who would shoot a film about their environment. Joseph knew he wanted to make a documentary about the gentrification-related changes in his neighborhood. “I was angry at first,” he said. “I tried to capture it on film to better understand it.”

Joseph was wowed by the crowd that turned out for the first screening of Clapping for the Wrong Reasons in Brooklyn, and said the question and answer period that followed broadened his own thinking about a phenomenon without easy answers. He wants to continue the discussion: Over spring break, he returned to his high school to show his film and talk to the students about the issues it raises. He’s submitted the film to several festivals and it was just accepted by the Seattle Film Festival. Joseph plans to work with Reel Works again this summer, to make a follow-up.

You can view the film on


Name: Khidr Joseph, Sage College of Albany Class of 2017

Hometown: Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

Major: Fine Arts. “The artwork in Art History inspires me and sparks new ideas for future projects I want to create. And figure drawing is helping me with my photo compositions.” 

Inspired by:  Gasland, a two-part documentary about fracking by Josh Fox, and work by Hungarian artist Brassai, a pioneer of nighttime photography. Nighttime photography “reminds me of being a kid, when my family would travel by car on vacation,” said Joseph. “I associate the nighttime lights with a safe feeling. Things pop that you don’t see during the day.”