THE TURBULENT tension between the city's building trade unions and some real-estate developers is a compelling narrative waiting for someone to splash the story across a big screen.

It won't be Tigre Hill, the local filmmaker behind documentaries on controversial issues such as the 2003 mayor's race and the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Hill quietly started work in February on a documentary about the union issue after being approached by two financiers who offered to pay for half of the film's cost and raise the rest of the cash.

Hill describes the film's backers as "a developer and an investment guy" but declined to identify them because he signed a confidentiality agreement.

The financiers were very interested in the story of Matt and Mike Pestronk, developers who have clashed with building trade unions about their Post Brothers Apartments projects here.

But creative differences tanked the deal three weeks ago.

"I didn't want to make it completely union-bashing," Hill said. "I wanted to show the benefits and what went wrong. They wanted it to be more of a polemic."

Clout obtained a copy of a six-minute video trailer Hill prepared for the project, tentatively called "State of The Union."

The trailer, which was made to raise money for the documentary, includes an interview with the Pestronk brothers and surveillance camera footage of labor strife at their projects.

"Pat Gillespie, the head of the Building Trades Council, said: 'If you don't make this project 100 percent union, we're going to do everything in our power to shut the job down,' " Mike Pestronk says in the trailer.

It then moves on to the March fiasco when municipal unions angry with Mayor Nutter used a cacophony of chants, screams and whistles to drown out and shut down his annual budget address.

In the trailer, Matt Pestronk said Nutter is "reaping what he sowed" by not dealing more strongly with unions in the city.

Hill this week said the financiers are now looking for a new filmmaker for the project.

Gillespie yesterday said he had not heard about the film.

"It's kind of funny," Gillespie said. "We have a wonderful relationship with our developers. We champion their causes."

As for the Pestronk brothers, he called them "bottom-feeders" looking to capitalize on the city's undervalued real estate while paying workers low wages.

No pictures, please!

Rookie state Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat, ran for office on a promise of working with Republicans when possible.

Sims on Tuesday put that bipartisan spirit in action, throwing a party at the house he rents in Harrisburg. Sims invited all members and staff from the state House, Democrats and Republicans.

Dress code: jeans and T-shirts.

Drinks: beer and wine.

Pictures: don't you dare.

The invitation included a "booing rule" - anyone taking a party picture would be booed.

"Sounds funny but it's VERY effective," the invitation said.

It worked, Sims said. Nobody took pictures at the party, which had a good bipartisan turnout.

Why the rule? Sims said the political atmosphere in Harrisburg can be so poisonous that he didn't want anyone to worry about having their picture taken with a member of an opposing party.


"Our crisis in education is one that we can solve ourselves. The state of Pennsylvania has to do the right thing and freeze the Capital Stock & Franchise [tax] phase-out and raise taxes. Raising taxes isn't that bad."

- Former Gov. Ed Rendell,

speaking at the State Budget

Crisis Task Force forum

in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN