‘Elevator Pitch’ by Martyna Starosta

Martyna Starosta’s new short film Elevator Pitch, about disability and disaster on New York City’s subways, launches to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Americans With Disabilities Act became law on July 26th, 1990, which prohibited discrimination and guaranteed that people with disabilities could have the same opportunities as everyone else. Elevator Pitch sheds light on the dire subway accessibility issue and reveals a system that shuts many out of cities in motion.

In 2019, 22-year-old mother Malaysia Goodson reportedly died while carrying her baby and stroller down a set of subway stairs. The Manhattan station in which this incident occurred, like hundreds of others in New York City, lacked an elevator. Goodson’s death prompted an outcry from her loved ones and disability advocates who urged the city to make the subways one-hundred percent accessible for all. 

The short, which premiered at the AFI Docs Virtual Film Festival earlier this year, uses audio of emotional public testimonials from Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board meetings and tableau shots of New Yorkers struggling to navigate the underground transit system; depicting the subway as an absurd obstacle course, barring disabled people who need it the most.

Watch Elevator Pitch below, it is also available to watch for free here.

Elevator Pitch

About the filmmaker

Martyna Starosta is a Polish-German director and cinematographer with a keen eye for the absurdity of life under capitalism. Her work has appeared in Field of Vision, The Intercept, MSNBC, Vox, Rewire.News, and Democracy Now!, among other places.

Her video report on violent attacks against environmental activists in Guatemala appeared in the Intercept and was completed on an IWMF Adelante Fellowship.

An investigatory piece on the failure of police to protect an abortion clinic in North Carolina, which Martyna co-directed, filmed, and edited, won Best Documentary Short at the 2017 Nevada International Film Festival, and was shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival, and the One World Human Rights Film Festival in Berlin, Germany.

As a cinematographer, she captured pivotal moments for the #MeToo documentary ON THE RECORD (2020) by Oscar®-nominated directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, which premiered at Sundance and was picked up by HBO. She was also a cameraperson on LIBRE (2018), a film exposing how private companies benefit from immigrant detention, which was co-released by Field of Vision and The New Yorker and screened at Sundance, Hot Docs, Camden, and other festivals.

Martyna was a staff producer at the Forward, and worked as a video production fellow at Democracy Now!. She holds an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College in New York and a BFA from the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany. Martyna speaks English, German, Spanish, Polish, French, and Portuguese. An enthusiastic Brooklyn resident, she’s currently quarantined in a tranquil suburb of Massachusetts – along with her partner, toddler, and in-laws.

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