Documentary honors San Francisco community heroes who stepped up during pandemic

As the pandemic eases, a new short documentary recognizes community heroes in San Francisco. 

It's called "It Takes the Hood to Save the Hood," a first-time feature from photographer Harvey Lozado.

"When I think of SOMA, I think about the resiliency of the people, we are survivors here," says organizer Rudy Corpuz, Jr. in the opening moments of the 30-minute movie.

Corpuz is one of five people profiled for their work and dedication as COVID-19 hit the South of Market neighborhood.

Thursday evening, they were honored in person as the documentary premiered on a big screen at the StrEAT Food Park on 11th Street.

The documentary shows how volunteers rallied to provide whatever people needed, such as thousands of pounds of food, and delivery drivers for house-bound recipients.

Community organizations had to join together as never before, and pivot as people panicked.

"You have people who are the sole provider for the family and now they're unemployed," says Carla Laurel, another individual featured in the film,

Laurel is the executive director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center.

"People didn't know what to do, how to navigate EDD, how to handle rent, and we had to figure all that out as it came along."

The audience for the screening included many of the staff and volunteers who went above and beyond themselves during the past year.

"Coming out of this pandemic I hope we can keep that solidarity and unity together," Corpuz told KTVU.

Corpuz is an ex-felon, and founder of the United Playaz, a violence-prevention organization.

During Covid, he rallied others who had served time to help the vulnerable around them.

"There ain't no bigger responsibility than giving in your life for somebody else's life," declared Corpuz at the screening event.

"Because we all know there were a lot of people who actually died from the pandemic."

In the film, Corpuz is even more direct.

"We helped people who didn't have no money to bury their people and they were scared,  they didn't know what to do," he recounts. 

The mini-documentary looks at SOMA's resiliency, both past and future.

"The folks who left, the techies that left, I don't know what that means for them but we're still here and we'll continue to be here," said Aureen Almario, Artistic Director of Bindlestiff Studio, a Filipino American Theatre Company.

Almario and the others honored, came onstage to receive bouquets and applause after the premiere.

"Thank you so much for making us all look beautiful on the screen," said Almario to filmmaker Lozado.

Although they were not seeking it, the recognition is appreciated.

"To be acknowledged for doing something positive for our people and the community and be greeted in this way, man it's priceless," said Corpuz.

Lozado says after some editing tweaks, he hopes to enter his work in film festivals and make it widely available.