Directed by Nathan Kensinger
Color, 18 minutes, 2018

Managed Retreat is a short documentary portrait of three New York City neighborhoods that were purchased by the New York State government in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to be demolished and returned to nature as part of the city’s first ‘managed retreat’ from rising sea levels.

By the end of this century, New York City is expected to have up to 6.25 feet of sea level rise, radically reshaping its 520 miles of coastline, and impacting more than 100 coastal neighborhoods.

This observational documentary follows the process of retreat over the course of one year in three waterfront communities on Staten Island, as homes are destroyed, streets are abandoned, and wild animals begin to return.




Rooftop Films
Rooftop Shots: Closing Night
August 25, 2018
Brooklyn, New York

Creative Climate Awards
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office
September 17 – October 12, 2018
Manhattan, New York

Environmental Film Festival Australia

Imagine Science Film Festival
Short Film Program: Crisis Studies
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Brooklyn, New York

The Climate Museum and Jamaica Bay-
Rockaway Parks Conservancy
Fall, 2018
Queens, New York



About the Filmmaker

Managed Retreat was created by Nathan Kensinger, a documentary filmmaker, photographer and artist whose work explores hidden urban landscapes, environmental disaster zones, and coastal communities impacted by sea level rise. His previous projects include The Newtown Creek Armada and Gowanus Voyage, which used remote control boats to film two Federal E.P.A. Superfund sites in Brooklyn.

Nathan has been documenting New York’s changing waterfront for the past decade, in an ongoing series of bi-monthly photo essaysHis photographs of Hurricane Sandy have been exhibited by the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New YorkHis photo essays of ‘managed retreat’ in New York City have been published extensively by Curbed NY, and have been featured on the PBS Newshour and included in Nature Climate Change.

For more information on his work, visit:




Press for Managed Retreat

“More than anything else, the film is a reminder of what we have in store for us… Already, wild animals have begun to reclaim the space, grass grows uncut, and houses have been demolished.”  – Untapped Cities

“The process of managed retreat is one of the most forward-thinking processes in New York City, in terms of addressing sea level rise and climate change. And I think we are going to see this process unfolding in other parts of the city in years to come, as we decide that we can’t live in neighborhoods on the waterfront.”  – Nathan Kensinger in the Daily Mail

“It’s not a question of if climate change will continue to ravage New York City’s coastline; it’s a question of when. Sea levels continue to rise, and it’s entirely likely that many waterfront neighborhoods will experience more frequent and severe flooding – if they’re not wiped out entirely – in the decades to come. ‘For a lot of waterfront neighborhoods in the city, the choice will be to either move away from the water sooner, or watch as your house is destroyed all over again, as the tides get higher and flooding gets worse,’ Kensinger notes.”  – Curbed NY