Skip to content

Review: Push

July 19, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

With housing prices at record highs in cities around the world, including here in Toronto, many young people are no longer able to even dream about one day owning a house.

This multi-pronged issue is explored in director Fredrik Gertten’s documentary Push, which follows Leilani Farha, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, as she travels around meeting with different politicians and local change-makers, in hopes of finding a solution and getting adequate housing recognized as a human right.

The film offers an in-depth look at what has made the housing market so inaccessible to new buyers, blaming it on a variety of issues including corporate greed on behalf of sellers, as well as a market that has become stagnant with not enough people selling because they can’t afford to go anywhere else.

Another one of the biggest issues is the increasing commodification of housing, with foreign buyers snatching up properties in major cities for investment purposes and allowing them to sit vacant, creating scarcity and driving the prices even further up. Farha is also investigating the private equity firms that are in the business of buying up affordable apartment buildings and creating more expensive units in order to turn a profit.

These issues of course effect poor and working class people the most, and the film points to the tragic Grenfall Tower fire in London as an example of this, with the developers cutting corners by outfitting the building with cheap materials in order to make it more affordable. Toronto’s ridiculously unaffordable housing market is also explored at length in the film, including the residents of a building in Parkdale who are organizing a rent strike to protest rising prices.

The film covers a lot of ground and does start to spin its wheels a bit at times, but these are some of the most pressing issues facing urban society today, and Push serves as an engaging and thought provoking look at how the the gross inflation of the real estate market has led to a global housing crisis.

Push is now playing in limited release at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

A version of this review was originally published during the 2019 Hot Docs Film Festival.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: