Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Made in America

2008 Sundance Film Festival
★ ★ ★

When I saw that Stacy Peralta had another documentary at this year’s Sundance, I put it at the top of my list. Both Riding Giants (surfing) and Dogtown and Z-Boys (skateboarding) were extraordinary peeks into unique and fascinating American cultures. Made in America shifts it's focus to another less romantic section of Southern California, and promised a more somber experience, taking a penetrating look at the gangs of South Central Los Angeles, one of the most deadly areas in the United States.

Like his other docs, this one takes a historical perspective. How did these gangs start? What cultural forces propagated their beginnings and fueled their growth? Who are these people? What are they really like, and why do they do what they do? I think Peralta’s gift is that he manages to really connect with his subjects and gain their trust, which turns out to be absolutely critical in the South Central neighborhoods. He also manages to tell a story with interest and compassion, but primarily through the perspective of those that have lived and shaped the experience.

Financed by South Central native and Golden State Warriors star Baron Davis, as well as an anonymous interested party in Hollywood, Made in America tells a story about a part of America we have chosen to ignore, despite the small-scale war that rages there every day. Seeing this movie will make you think a little differently about gang warfare, change your perspective, maybe add a little empathy to your world view. And for a filmmaker, that's perhaps the highest form of the art.

Sundance Moment
I saw this movie at the last day of Sundance down in Salt Lake City, far away from the glitz and glamor and stars in Park City. I heard Stacy Peralta was sick and probably wouldn't make it. But he did come, and not just for the introduction, but stayed for the Q&A as well, and talked with passion about how make this movie had changed him, and how important it is that we realize that teenagers are killing each other, something that would absolutely not be tolerated by society in any suburban area of our country, but goes virtually unnoticed in South Central.

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home