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(San Francisco, CA)-Los Angeles, once the whitest city in
America, is now the most multicultural city in the world.
Formerly an empty, bucolic space, L.A. is now a disorienting
megalopolis. Yet the city's cultural transformation has gone
largely overlooked by the media, the movies, and even by many
of its residents. The entertainment industry continues to
churn outdated images of L.A. while ignoring the many new
stories emerging from the city's increasingly diverse population.
A rare and thoughtful evocation of a city, LOS ANGELES NOW
looks beyond Baywatch and Blade Runner to create a fresh and
candid portrait of America's second largest city following
the close of its Anglo Century (1900-2000). A fascinating
look at a city where more than half of the population is Latino
and 40 percent are foreign born, LOS ANGELES NOW will air
on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 at 10 P.M. (check local listings)
on Independent Lens.
The film uses creative visuals and computer-generated imagery
to evoke the city's vast array of moods and rhythms, exploring
challenging questions and provocative points of view. The
film includes conversations with a broad range of Los Angeles
figures, from acclaimed actor Salma Hayek and businessman/
philanthropist Eli Broad to renowned author and essayist Richard
Rodriguez and Cardinal Roger Mahony.
Far-reaching and thought-provoking, 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, cultural confrontations and
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.
Among the topics 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 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
LOS ANGELES NOW, a presentation
of KPBS, is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,
PBS, The Skirball Foundation, the Independent Television Service,
Latino Public Broadcasting, the California Council for the
Humanities and the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at
Loyola Marymount University.
The program's interactive companion website www.pbs.org/losangelesnow
features detailed information about the film, including an
interview with the filmmaker, cast and crew bios, as well
as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter.
The site also features a "talkback" section for
viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of
the film and more.
Interviewees (in alphabetical
• Renán Almendárez
Coello, "El Cucuy de la Mañana" or
"Morning Boogeyman" to his radio audience, rules
morning radio in Los Angeles with two million listeners a
• Mark Bradford, artist
whose paintings probe the relation between class, culture
• Eli Broad, businessman/philanthropist
who is on a quest to build a "center" for Los Angeles.
• Wanda Coleman, native
of Los Angeles and author of several volumes of poetry including
Bathwater Wine (1998), winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall
• Mike Davis, author, whose
works include Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination
of Disaster, Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists
Never See and City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los
• Harry Gamboa Jr., artist
who has pioneered multimedia formats for nearly three decades.
His work is crucial to an understanding not only of Chicano
art but also of the post-1968 avant-garde in the United States.
• Dr. Fernando Guerra, professor
and director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at
Loyola Marymount University since 1996. Guerra is also an
associate professor at LMU in the departments of Chicano studies
and political science.
• Jessica Hall-Valdés,
designer for North East Trees and an impassioned advocate
of watershed, and in particular, stream
restoration in urban Los Angeles.
• Salma Hayek, actress.
Born in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico to parents of Lebanese and Spanish
heritage, Hayek came to Los Angeles in 1991.
• Pico Iyer, author of The
Global Soul, which begins in Los Angeles International Airport
(LAX), a place he terms the model for future cities.
• Phil Jackson, former Los
Angeles Lakers head coach.
• Norman Klein, cultural
critic, urban and media historian and novelist whose work
includes The Vatican to Vegas: A History of Special Effects,
The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of
Memory and Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-86.
• Joel Kotkin, an author
and internationally recognized authority on global, economic,
political and social trends, is a senior fellow at the Davenport
Institute for Public Policy, at Pepperdine University.
• Helie Lee, Los Angeles
resident and author of the best-selling book Still Life with
Rice (1996), the story of her extended family's journey from
Japanese oppression in Korea to escape to China to immigration
to the U.S.
• Cardinal Roger Mahony,
leader of the largest Catholic archdiocese in North America.
• Gerald Matchin, Los Angeles
County Medical Center Administration staff member. Founded
in 1878, Los Angeles County Medical Center was originally
established as a 100-bed hospital with 47 patients, it is
now licensed for 1,395 beds and budgeted to staff 745 beds.
• William Alexander McClung,
author of Landscapes of Desire: Anglo Mythologies of Los Angeles.
• Medusa, Hip-Hop artist
who is one of a small underground cadre of female artists,
record producers, and concert promoters who are fighting to
uphold the revolutionary spirit that has all but disappeared
in mainstream Hip-Hop today.
• Yxta Maya Murray, author
and professor of Law at Loyola Law School. Murray's novels
include The Conquest and Locas, both set within the Los Angeles
• Luis Orellana, taxi driver
who came to the U.S. at the age of 18 from El Salvador and
has been driving the streets of Los Angeles for over 20 years.
• Richard Rodriguez, author
of three books: Brown: The Last Discovery of America, Hunger
of Memory, and Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican
Father, as well as two BBC documentaries. Rodriguez is a frequent
contributor to The News Hour on PBS and one of the nation's
most respected essayists.
• Yuval Rotem, U.S. Ambassador
of the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles since 1999.
• Kevin Starr, historian
and librarian for the State of California who is currently
researching California history, history of American culture,
urban history and government. More than 30 years in the making,
his six-volume book series titled Americans and the California
Dream captures the enigmatic blend of dreams and hardscrabble
reality that loosely defines California.
• Uptown 3000, Hip-Hop group
that has sold millions of records in Asia and has been labeled
as the Run DMC of Korea.
• Michael Ventura, author
who writes for L.A. Weekly and former columnist for L.A. View's
"Letters at 3am," a weekly, award-winning meditation
on odd angles of Angeleno life.
• D.J. Waldie, author of
Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and Where We Are Now: Notes From
Off Screen Interviews
• Mariana Botey, Mexican
artist whose work in film and video installation experiment
with ritual, coded and sub-cultural languages as tools for
• Dov Charney, founder and
CEO of L.A.-based American Apparel, the self-proclaimed "Sweatshop
Free" T-shirt manufacturer that sews and sells clothing
with a capitalist-socialist business fusion. American Apparel's
policy is to pay American workers living wages to produce
100% of their products in the United States.
• Majid Nacify, Iranian-born
poet and exile, whose collections of poetry include After
the Silence, Sorrow of the Border, and Poems of Venice, as
well as a book of essays called In Search of Joy: A Critique
of Male-Dominated, Death-Oriented Culture in Iran, all in
Persian. Majid is currently a co-editor of Daftarha-ye Shanbeh,
a Persian literary journal published in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES NOW Credits
Producer/Director: Phillip Rodriguez
Cinematography: Claudio Rocha
Editor: Bernard Lhert
Animators: Claudio Rocha & Humberto Ramirez
Associate Producer: Jennifer Kobzik
Production Coordinator: Joaquin Mesa
Sound Designer: Jon Oh
About the Filmmaker
Phillip Rodriguez (Producer/Director), a documentary
filmmaker and Los Angeles native, is driven by a desire to
chronicle and translate the dramatic cultural changes occurring
in the western United States. Rodriguez' previous documentary,
the critically acclaimed Mixed Feelings: San Diego/Tijuana
explores the landscape and architecture between the U.S./Mexican
border. It aired several times throughout 2002 and 2003 and
will continue to air in 2004 on the PBS national schedule
as well as local schedules. Critics lauded the film's innovative
and fresh approach, which uses animation of architectural
models, aerial photography, split screen, digital music and
other means to illustrate the cultural differences suggested
by the built environments of the two cities.
Rodriguez' interest in how culture is constructed and brokered
by and among elites led to the making of the documentary Manuel
Ocampo: God is My Copilot. The film, an examination of multi-culturalism
as manifested in the contemporary art world, chronicles the
rise and fall of a talented young Filipino-American painter
and his relationship to art dealers and collectors, many of
whom saw him as an heir to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Featuring
Julian Schnabel, Dennis Hopper, Mary Boone and other prominent
figures in the contemporary art world, the film witnesses
the many misunderstandings between an Asian American West
Coast artist and the decidedly New York-centered art world.
The film was celebrated at film festivals worldwide, including
the AFI International Festival, Hawaii International Film
Festival, the Biennale Internationale du film sur l'art at
the Centre Georges Pomidou in Paris and the Havana Film Festival.
Another Rodriguez project Pancho Villa & Other Stories
focused on the general exploits of General Pancho Villa and
the oral histories of those involved in the revolutionary
movement in Mexico. It won an award for Best Documentary at
the 2000 San Antonio Cinefestival and was honored at the Smithsonian
Not limited to film, Rodriguez wrote the story and title song
for the Grammy-nominated "Papa's Dream" by Los Lobos.
He also founded, published, and edited Avance, a national
Latino magazine of arts and culture as well as Esencia, a
San Francisco Latino magazine of arts and culture.
Rodriguez is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and has an M.A. in
Latin American Studies and an M.F.A. in Film and Television
from UCLA. He also studied Art History and Spanish Literature
at Universidad Cumplutense de Madrid. He is currently a Senior
Research Fellow at The Center for the Study of Los Angeles
at Loyola Marymount University.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights
at 10 P.M. on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features
documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united
by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching
visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features
unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community
or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The
New Yorker to write: "Watching Independent Lens...is
like going into an independent bookstore-you don't always
find what you were looking for but you often find something
you didn't even know you wanted." Presented by ITVS,
the series is supported by interactive companion websites,
and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further
information about the series is available at www.pbs.org/independent
lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS,
and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB),
a private corporation funded by the American people, with
additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment
for the Arts.
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning
documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative
new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent
Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle
of public policy created by media activists, citizens and
politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public
television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of
Congress to champion independently produced programs that
take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved
audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have
revitalized the relationship between the public and public
television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives
and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about
ITVS can be obtained by visiting www.itvs.org. ITVS is funded
by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation
funded by the American People.
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) supports the development,
production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial
educational and cultural television that is representative
of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest
to Latino Americans. LPB creates a structure and process that
allows Latino artists the public broadcasting resources, community,
government and the private sector to bring their resources
and creativity to the service of the public. LPB has funded
more than fifty projects for public television since its creation
in 1998. More information about LPB can be found at www.lpbp.org.
KPBS is a broadcast service of San Diego State University,
serving the region with TV, radio and Internet content that
is educational as well as entertaining-and free of commercial
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