The Man Who Walked Every Street of New York City
If a New Yorker tells you to go take a walk, usually you’ve done something wrong. But not Matt Green. The Virginia native, who has lived in Brooklyn, decided to walk every street of every borough in New York City. His travels are the subject of the new documentary The World Before Your Feet, which is now playing at Quad Cinemas.
Directed by Jeremy Workman and executive produced by Jesse Eisenberg, the film shows Green interacting with random people. We see a number of “churchagogues,” as he calls them — synagogues that now serve as churches. We see him at the grave of Harry Houdini, and at a number of Jewish cemeteries.
After a recent screening of the film at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Green, Workman, and Eisenberg all discussed the film.
Green, who is Jewish, said he met a number of Hasidic Jews — and in a few cases even served as a Shabbos goy, or a person who will turn on lights or air conditioning on the Sabbath. That person is not supposed to be Jewish, but Green said that people didn’t ask about his faith.
Workman said that it was not easy to edit the film. “I lost track at 500 hours and three years,” he joked.
Incredibly, Green is still not done; he said he’s walked more than 8,000 miles and has more than 500 to go. The film shows him crashing on friends’ couches or cat-sitting so that he has a place to stay. We also see him survive on very little money as he takes his journey.
Is Green’s idea a brilliant one that showcases the beauty of the land and people of New York — or an insane waste of time when he could be doing something better with his life? After watching the film, I’d say it was brilliant, but that’s up to the viewer. Regardless, it is clear that Green has made sacrifices. Two failed relationships with women were likely the result of his decision to walk almost every day for more than five years. What made his journey longer was his decision to take pictures and post information on his website, even though he joked that only 12 people look at it.
Eisenberg said that he didn’t expect to be a big supporter of the movie at first.
“When I read this cold email he sent me unsolicited … I planned to just, you know, watch three minutes to be polite,” Eisenberg quipped, before adding that he watched the whole thing.
An audience member asked Green about which shoes are best to walk in.
“The shoe itself doesn’t matter so much; it’s that you keep buying that same type of shoes because you get inch-thick calluses,” he said.
In one scene, a man asks Green if he’s been mugged while walking. He hasn’t been. Instead, Green said that he has seen the kindness and humanity of people, who he thinks all must be looked at as individuals.