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Chavez Ravine2005

A Los Angeles Story

  • 4.3
CHAVEZ RAVINE tells the bittersweet story of how an American community was betrayed by greed, political hypocrisy and good intentions gone astray. In 1949, photographer Don Normark stumbled on Chávez Ravine, a closely-knit Mexican-American village on a hill overlooking downtown Los Angeles. Enchanted, he stayed for a year and took hundreds of photographs, never knowing he was capturing on film the last images of a place that was about to disappear. The following year, the city of L.A. evicted the 300 families of Chávez Ravine to make way for a low-income public housing project. The land was cleared, homes, schools, and church razed to the ground. But the real estate lobby, sensing a great opportunity, accused the LA Housing Authority's Frank Wilkinson of being a communist agent. The city folded and instead of building the promised housing, it sold the land to baseball owner Walter O'Malley, who built Dodger Stadium on the site. Fifty years later, Normark's haunting black-and-white photographs reclaim and celebrate a lost village from a simpler time.

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Member Reviews (4)

0 stars--

Lazy-! Could the filmmaker do any less research ?

I read the picture book on which the film is based. No one cared about a bunch of campesinos. Frank Wilkinson was a great fighter for civil liberties.

A documentary about LA-power-structure duplicity in dealings with a small Latino community. But it's also a documentary made real by the extraordinary, accidental photographs of everyday life in the community, snapped in the late 1940's, but not published until 6 decades later. And this tragedy is only a symptom of the virulent, scorched-earth, anti-Communist opposition to federal low income housing programs. Covered in 23 minutes.

Very good. I had often heard Mexican Americans in Los Angeles mention this event, but I never had a full understanding of all that was lost.