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|Index||25 reviews in total|
I would like to start right off by saying that those of you who have
criticized this film for being one sided propaganda, flashy, too much
like a music video, exaggerated, etc. etc. have no idea what you are
For the past 10 years I have worked as a bartender in nightclubs in the LA area. I got to know a lot of people from South Central LA, including a lot of gangsters and gang bangers, both black and Hispanic, and I have a few friends that live in that area. Unless you have been there yourself, you do not know anything about South Central. It is a no man's land, miles of run down houses and buildings, blocks of empty lots, liquor stores and pawn shops, as the film indicates. The schools are in shambles, with over crowding, no music, no art. There are no parks, no museums, no nothing. You try living like that.
A few weeks ago, I found a stray dog there on the corner and I took it home, a week later there was a gang shooting on the same corner, A 19 year old had been shot and killed with an AK47.
I used to think people were exaggerating, but clearly I was wrong. We're all a product of our surroundings, and this truly is a kill or be killed environment, and it's not just the gang bangers that own guns.
I do not condone their behavior, but I have to say that most of the guys I have met, were good guys that ended up in a terrible way of life. And don't forget most of them got involved in gangs when they just kids, usually about 10 years old. So it's easy to see how they can get caught up in this violent, oppressive, hopeless, maze, that our society doesn't care about. Add to that any personal challenges such as a dysfunctional home, low self esteem, addiction, etc. etc and you have a recipe for disaster. Oh, and let's not forget about how many guns and assault rifles are on the street, thanks to the NRA.
Also, I saw this film on PBS which is a network known for quality programming, so I highly doubt they would have aired it if it were not an authentic documentary. I also doubt Forrest Whitaker would have narrated it, and he is from there, he would know.
Again I don't think the gang thing is OK, but this problem did not come out of a vacuum, and that's the point of the film, that there are events and circumstances that have created this problem.
Growing up I faced a lot of challenges, a crazy family, problems with drugs and alcohol, depression, low self esteem, and I am a white female who lived in a nice neighborhood. I cannot imagine adding to it all of the above, I think it would have pushed me over the edge.
This film is the real deal no matter what the critics say.
I was lucky enough to be part of a select crowd last week to see the
Los Angeles premier of "Made In America" in the center of downtown LA.
The atmosphere was charged with excitement as many of the characters
who appeared in the film were there to see it, many for the first time.
Though there were were sound issues early, the power and integrity of
the film could not be masked.
This is such an important film. It is so easy to live in this city, sitting back in condos in Sherman Oaks or fancy houses in Brentwood, and have no idea that a whole other city exists just south of the 10 freeway. Early on in the movie a number is thrown out; fifteen thousand gang related homicides in the past twenty years. Think about that for a moment. If that was happening in any other country, to any other race of people, there would be an out cry to the UN. In Los Angeles, it's just another day. Turn the page and see what Britney did this time. This is a story that needs to be told. The people of Los Angeles need to hear this. I heard some talk at the end of the film that they may try to show this in the LA school system. I hope that this happens. Knowledge is power. And, there is a message in here that needs to be shouted from the roof tops.
I have seen some critics try to attack Stacy Peralta, suggesting that a white, former surfer/skate boarder does not have the right to tell this tale. I would ask, if not him, then whom? Who else has stepped up to put their reputation on the line, to go into these neighborhoods with an open mind and open heart, and sacrificed years of their life to give a voice to this condemned segment of society? This has been Stacy's most ambitious project to date. I applaud his efforts and congratulate him on shedding light on a subject that most of America would rather ignore.
Please go see this film. Please tell your friends. It's not a romantic comedy. You will feel it in your guts for the next week or so. But, it's worth it, I promise.
The documentary is pretty one-sided in terms of what it covers. But I
don't begrudge that what it does address did lead to gangs
(segregation, racism, etc.). The film tells this side well with good
background and history. I learned a lot about LA racial history.
However, the "criminal enterprise" aspect of gangs isn't really
addressed at all. Gangs have structures, turf, and commerce. While they
may have sprung from hopelessness and segregation, they evolved into
criminal enterprises that are quick to use deadly violence.
I give this film 5 stars because it really addresses half the story. It is a good history lesson on why gangs came to be, but I would have liked to understand their structure and commerce more (the day-to-day reasons for their existence and brutality). The film kind of shrugs off the violence as gang members list many reasons why their lives suck. That's fine, but it really needed to be balanced more with what they gain from gangs through drugs, robbery and violence. The gang members are not powerless victims - they profit from and gain status from the violence.
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
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.
I recently saw this at Birmingham, Alabama's Sidewalk Film Festival.
Stacey spoke afterward the screening about how the movie was shown many
times to people in LA to make sure that he was getting the right angle.
Also, that he spent months WITHOUT a camera getting to know the people
that were featured in the film.
Living in Birmingham, being one the nation's most dangerous and racially-divided cities, I can see how this film is relatable to all oppression-linked crime.
I think that this issue is extremely too large for Stacey to have adjusted his focus any wider. To ask the director to squeeze more information into this documentary would be asking too much of him. I thought that it was, over-all, very interesting visually and in meaning which can be hard to come by in today's documentaries. I really hope HBO or some other distributer picks this doc up. It needs to be seen, not only by LA natives, but all of America.
Saw the film tonight at the LA Film Festival and really enjoyed it. It provides a history of LA gang culture from a social perspective, then jumps all the way back to slavery. It's not New Jack City or a history of crack. It's the story of a marginalized community right smack in the middle of the American dream machine. Although the stories are bleak and depressing, the film is one of the most positive efforts I've seen in years. Very different from Peralta's previous docs. He even refused to answer skateboarding questions from audience members and brought a lot of the main characters up on stage to take questions from the audience. I hope this doc gets the attention it deserves.
This movie was hands down, excellent. As a history buff, I thoroughly
enjoyed learning the history of L.A. The first hand accounts along with
the imagery was fantastic. I have read several reviews and noticed that
people seem to think something was missing from the movie since it
didn't go into as much depth in discussing the mechanics of the gang
lifestyle. Well, I think they may have missed the point. As the title
suggests, these gangs were MADE in America. And the movie goes to great
lengths to illustrate this.
Others were not satisfied because they weren't spoon fed the who, what, when and where of the origins of the gangs. This was done on purpose. If you paid attention to Kumasi, he told you everything you needed to know. When he said : "Part of the mechanics of oppression is to pervert people into becoming instruments of their own oppression." this was the beginning of the Crips and Bloods. If you don't know anything about Hoover of COINTELPRO, then maybe you won't get it. You have to read between the lines.
How do think they have such powerful guns, what about drugs? I'm no conspiracy theorist but the evidence is outstanding that the Crips and Bloods formed out of an attempt to eradicate a certain community.
This movie should be shown in all schools and parents should show it to their children. Thank you Mr. Peralta and everyone involved in the making of this film.
This was a superior movie. All gang members should watch it and see that what they're fighting for is nothing. This movie was an eyeopener and was very educational. It is sad that people are killing in and destroying their own neighborhoods. All of the years of fighting should have proved by now that nothing is gained with these deaths. The only hope is that the mothers only give birth to girls from here on and the females in these environments wise up and straighten things up. This fighting is not for honor or family. It is a testosterone battle that on one is winning. It is so sad that it takes the accidental murder of innocent children to open the gangs eyes, if only for a while. The government needs to implement something that will give these young men some pride and something to work toward besides daily survival. I was very moved by this movie.
A very strange documentary on how racism turned clubs into gangs, youths into warriors and a relatively small stretch of land into a war zone during the past 40 years. This film looks into the history of Los Angeles, how black youths were shunned by the government, harassed by the police and basically pushed to the brink of rioting, as in Watts and Detroit in the 60s. Then in the 90s when rioting hit Los Angeles again, clubs for youths of the 70s had turned into gangs, formed around the two biggest gangs of them all: bloods and crips, who have so far been the reason for the deaths of more than 15000 people. Highly recommendable, this film lets out the anger, despair, peer pressures, negative and positive thinking surrounding the entire nature of gangs forming. This is a very important, well-written and thoroughly researched and interviewed film.
I watched this documentary as part of the Independent Lens series on
PBS, and thought it was great. The film covers a lot of topics related
to the gang of South Central Los Angeles, from their earliest history
to the socio-economic causes to the effect it has on real families. And
it ends with a sense of hope that the people of that community can in
fact put an end to the cycle.
It would be easy to do a documentary on this topic that reeks of white guilt or points fingers or cozies up to the gang members. But instead, this film takes a very neutral viewpoint. That's part of what makes it great. Plus, it's very well done technically. The soundtrack is outstanding, the narration is good, and the audio is unusually good for a documentary.
I give it an 8/10.
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