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“Let’s make a movie about check cashing joints. They’re as ubiquitous as bodegas and they do as much harm.” – Casimir Nozkowski
“I can relate. Even though I knew it was senseless, when I needed fast cash I used them” – Rafi Kam
“Let’s go in, even though I hate check cashing joints because they remind me that I live in poverty” – Dallas Penn
This is essentially the thread that began the odyssey of our latest video. We wanted to document the economic lifestyle of the people that used check cashing joints. Why do these places even exist? Don’t the people that use them know about banks? Why would anyone pay someone for their OWN money?
I think we answer the questions above a little more clearer. Commercial banks don’t exist in the ‘hood. People with no money to save don’t need them. What they need is a facility that gives them the cash they need to buy their groceries, pay their bills and copp their drugs. Poor people need cash. It keeps them on the economic grid. What is more patriotic than going into debt? Our government has a zillion dollar deficit. If they can do it why shouldn’t the backbone of America also follow suit?
We vacillated on whether check cashing joints were really the devil in disguise. For many of us there are no other optiions. These establishments aren’t here to help poor people gain economic stability. They are here to provide a service and for that service they extract their blood, just like any other service that is contracted to the poverty class. Just be aware of that when you step inside of those doors.
‘Check Mate’ was directed and edited by Casimir Nozkowski
Camera work and graphics from Ian Savage
Even more camera work from Josh Weisbrot
Music by El Keter
A special Chea goes out to Ben Popken(consumerist.com)