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L Train Shutdown the Subject of Upcoming Independent Documentary

Production still from the L Train Doc

Feb. 21, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

The impending shutdown of the Canarsie tunnel—connecting the L train between Brooklyn and Manhattan—will be the subject of an upcoming independent documentary.

The L Train Doc, the working title of the feature, will focus on capturing the dramatic impact the tunnel’s closure will have on the line’s 400,000 daily riders and beyond. Small businesses, politicians, realtors, and others are set to be featured in the film.

The film will focus on people’s expectations of what the shutdown will mean versus the reality.

Emmett Adler, an award-winning filmmaker and director of the documentary, said the idea for the feature came in 2016, when plans to shut down the L line for 15 months in April 2019 were revealed. As an East Williamsburg resident at the time, the news was shocking.

“I was taking the L train every day for everything,” Adler said. “It was a huge part of my life. I just couldn’t imagine what that was going to be like. It was such a drastic thing.”

“I started to think what that would mean for so many people,” he added.

Adler was eventually joined by his friend Ian Mayer, a producer and graphics artist, in creating the film.

Principal photography for the L Train Doc began in 2016 and is ongoing, as both Adler and Mayer head to the multiple community meetings, protests, and events surrounding the shutdown, especially after the MTA and DOT released their joint mitigation plan. Some of the film’s voices so far include Steve Hindy, founder of the Brooklyn Brewery, John Surico, a journalist, multiple residents, and a group of politicians including Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint).

Canarsie Tunnel in 2012 (MTA)

“We are going to pair expectations with results right next to it,” Adler said. “What someone said was going to happen and the buildup leading to the shutdown. It’s all about expectations, worries, and concerns, and it climaxes with the shutdown happening and the followup afterward.”

The documentary has also taken the filmmakers well outside of the L train corridor in Brooklyn to parts of lower Manhattan and Queens, and even delves into themes like state and federal politics and the current state of American infrastructure.

The documentary will likely run for 120 minutes, and is scheduled for a fall 2019 release to coincide with the months after the Canarsie tunnel closes in April of that year.

Adler and Mayer will work to premier the film at a festival, screenings, and perhaps through a buyer like HBO or Netflix. “My goal is to have as many people see this film,” Adler said. “We have the highest ambitions for it.”

To learn more about the film, visit and follow the film on Instagram.

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