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Once the whitest city in America, Los Angeles is now the most multicultural city in the history of the world. Once an empty, bucolic space, L.A. is now a disorienting megalopolis.

Mexican worker Yet the city's cultural transformation has gone largely overlooked by the media, the movies, and even by the many of the city's residents themselves. The entertainment industy continues to churn out counterfeit and outmoded images of L.A. while ignoring the many new stories emerging from the city's increasingly diverse population.

Chinese womanLos Angeles Now looks beyond Baywatch and Blade Runner to create a fresh and candid portrait of America's second largest city. The film uses creative visuals and computer-generated imagery to evoke the city's vast array of moods and rhythms. And it abandons the polite P.C. language of 90s multiculturalism to explore challenging questions and provocative points of view.

Among the issues raised in the film:

  • Now that L.A.'s Anglo century is over, how will the new Latino/Asian majority work with other ethnic groups to create a cultural consensus? Will the new coalitions manage to sustain the high productivity that the Anglos achieved?

  • What is the future of L.A.'s unprecedented multiculturalism? Is this the beginning of a more harmonious race relations or increased racial tensions? Will L.A.'s many ethnic neighborhoods balkanize or coalesce?

  • Is Los Angeles impermanent by nature? Can it retain a sense of history despite its earthquakes and its seemingly insatiable desire to rebuild? And why does the city set fire to itself every generation or so?

  • What effects does the city's sprawl -- its freeways, diffuse borders, lack of center -- have on its citizens? To what extent do Angelenos, in the words of William McClung, “construct their own Los Angeles out of the areas that are meaningful to them?” Or struggle against anomie?

The city in blue

The issues explored in Los Angeles Now are relevant well beyond the borders of the city. Many agree that Los Angeles serves as a diagnostic for other urban centers. Cities from Hartford to Las Vegas inevitably face the influx of immigrants, the cultural confrontations, and the urban sprawl. If the future were a place, Los Angeles would be it. Los Angeles Now provides a much-needed starting point for imagining our American future.

 
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