The Maze explores the historical, cultural, and environmental impact surrounding of the MacArthur Maze freeway interchange in Oakland. From Ohlone shellmounds to homeless communities in West Oakland, this film examines how the convergence of four distinct landscapes — a state park, a shopping mall, a neighborhood, and a port – came to be and how they each represent a part of the history of the San Francisco East Bay Area.
Through the use of archival film, historical maps, photos and interviews with members of the communities, viewers are introduced to the rich and sometimes contentious history of the East Bay.
When I moved to West Oakland in August 2016 from the Netherlands, I immediately became aware of the elevated freeway interchange looming over the neighborhood that was going to be my home for the following two years. And it was clear how one of the freeways, intended or not, acts as a physical border between the cities of Oakland and Emeryville; two towns that today are as different as night and day. One with luxury condos, multi-million dollar apartments and a shopping mall fulfilling all of our needs. The other, West Oakland, with old Victorian homes dating back to the glory days when it was the prime transportation hub of the American West.
But the image of freeways acting as physical barriers, separating people along notions of race and class, were not a foreign sight to me. I too grew up and have lived on the ‘wrong side of the tracks'. And when I lived in South Africa, I saw how townships, racialized spaces created during apartheid, still dictate people’s daily lives and routines.