Andy Torres, baseball writer for the blog Extra Innings on the KPCC 89.3 FM Web site, sent me a heads-up a couple days ago that I'd like to pass along.
Tonight at 9:30 p.m., as part of its Independent Lens series, Los Angeles public television station KCET will air the documentary Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story by filmmaker Jordan Mechner. The film tells the story of 300 families, citizens living in the ravine, who were displaced by the City of Los Angeles with the promise of a low-income housing project from which they would have first pick of the new apartments. But after the land was razed and their homes and schools were destroyed, the people discovered that the land had been sold to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley to make way for a new ballpark. The previous citizens of Chavez Ravine were never reimbursed for their losses and were forced to find somewhere else to live. The movie, narrated by Cheech Marin, with a music score provided by Ry Cooder and Lalo Guerrero, combines interviews with many former residents of the community, as well as some of the city officials that oversaw the Chavez Ravine project, with archival footage from the era and the photographs of Don Normark, who extensively recorded the life of Chavez Ravine in 1949, having no idea that in just a few years the area would be gone, leaving his striking imagery as one of the final documents of this community.
The film should be of strong interest to Los Angeles area residents interested in their city's tangled political and social history. But fans of the ex-Brooklyn Dodgers should take note as well. Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story promises to tell the painful tale of how a neighborhood and its people were sacrificed to make way for the creation of another place that holds, for Dodger fans, some of the greatest beauty, strongest memories and most vivid associations in all of Los Angeles, as Chavez Ravine undoubtedly did for the people who lived there in 1949, before the Dodgers moved out west.
KCET's Independent Lens series will air Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story tonight, Wednesday, June 8, at 9:30 p.m., and again Saturday, June 11, at 9:00 p.m.
UPDATE: 6/8/05 2:40pm
While I'm at it, I'll give a little plug to another film running on KCET's Independent Lens on Saturday, June 18, at 10:30 p.m. Double Dare is the story of two stuntwomen, one who doubled for Lynda "Wonder Woman" Carter back in the '70s, and another who more recently doubled for Lucy "Xena" Lawless. The word on this documentary is very good. In fact, I strongly recommend bookmarking the Independent Lens Web site and checking in on it regularly. It's an excellent way to keep up on a lot of worthwhile documentary and independent films that may get press, but may also be, for whatever reason, difficult to see in theaters.