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I was mostly interested in watching The Garden because the cover image
caught my eye. I know that I shouldn't judge a movie by it's cover, but
in this case, I'm glad that I did.
This movie really made me angry (any movie that incites some sort of strong emotion in me is regarded as a good movie in my book!). The unfairness of the conflict is so aggravating that I found myself yelling at the TV screen. I just cannot comprehend the actions that some people take just because they have the power. The actions are not reasonably rationalized, and it just really sucks for the underdogs.
I would have never known about this issue if it wasn't for this film, and it made me realize that I'm unaware of so many issues that are similar to the garden conflict, and I wish I knew about more of them so that maybe I could do something.
One of THE MOST important films I just saw is "The Garden" WATCH IT!! Do you care about democracy? Do you care about the rights of PEOPLE vs. profit?? Do you care about the environment?? Do you care to see political realities and the reality of LIFE in America?? If all the above is true then do not delay and watch this film and get at least five others to as well...And then DO something. That is my spare change but for information about the grassroots South Central farmers who fought in the struggle (and are still fighting) please check out: http://www.southcentralfarmers.com/ and also thegardenmovie.com/ of course as well as the IMDb page...
This amazing documentary concerns a garden, at the time the largest
urban garden in the United States, dug and fertilized and cared for by
a Hispanic population on what was, at the beginning, barren, wasted
soil in the middle of the city; over a period of years it became not
only a magical garden, but a place of community unity and pride. At
some point, the folks who have been growing things are suddenly served
an eviction notice with little time to spare. Over the years, the barren space has grown rich with green, small plants have become trees, there is an oasis in the middle of concrete poverty--and the owner, after what appear to be shifty dealings behind doors, decides some storage bins would be more advantageous, and certainly more profitable.
Fortunately, several local leaders contact some folks at Los Angeles City Hall--mainly without much results, but the attendant brouhaha draws in celebrity support from folks like Willy Nelson and Joan Baez, and fund-raising begins in order to reach the price first named by the landowner--who quickly becomes, for all time, a loathsome nemesis who lacks both foresight and imagination, an individual whose nasty sense of revenge becomes more pressing to him than financial gain. He's a heartless number-cruncher right out of Dickens, a Ralph Nickleby or a Scrooge--but without redemption. One cringes to think such people exist in an enlightened culture. He could consider numerous options--but only wants an eviction--now!
I was appalled at much of what happens, and I suspect you will be as well. The filmmaker does not offer all the answers, nor does he tie up all the strings laid out early in the plot--but he profiles a cultural group admirable for their love of the land and for their tenacious desire to raise food for themselves and family in a once-sterile setting. This documentary is not entirely a downer, but several scenes made me cry out with grief and anger.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After the riots of 1992, the city of Los Angeles set aside fourteen
acres of land not far from the downtown area to be used as a community
produce garden, the largest such parcel in the United States. In 2003,
the owner of the property decided to sell the land to make way for a
storage facility and soccer field, resulting in a tremendous loss for
the farmers who had invested so much of their time and lives working
there. The documentary "The Garden," directed by Scott Hamilton
Kennedy, chronicles the fight the workers waged against the
powers-that-be to preserve the place that had come to mean so much to
The issue eventually became a cause celebre for politicians and celebrities alike, with people like Dennis Kucinich, Darryl Hannah, Joan Baez and Willie Nelson getting in on the action. But the true heroes of "The Garden" are the ordinary men and women who took on the system and proved that even if you can't always beat City Hall, it would be a betrayal of the human spirit not to at least give it a try. This is a heartrending yet inspiring film - if a trifle rough around the edges - marked by the bitterness of outward defeat and the triumph of a community rising up and making its voice heard. The "villains" may be pretty clear-cut in this case - lip-service politicians, shady dealers and a vindictive landowner - but then so too are the heroes. "The Garden" is their story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was nominated? Why? Appalling editing, cinematography, an almost complete disconnect between the farm and the farmers (were they illegal immigrants, poor LA folk or what?), nothing useful to show that Horowitz was a rich profiteer (just a shot of him leaving the courtroom after his deposition in a Mercedes?). I could not connect with the people, but did like the shots opening and closing of the farm and the dirt patch left afterwards. I did not understand fully if all the farmers got new land or not. The LA politicians were only as expected, crooked and cranky. I do not care about the politicians to be honest - I was expecting a film where I would learn something more about the individual farmers, and that's where I felt let down the most. I love the idea of urban green, we should do more for this in US cities, and this was a great opportunity to make a case for an active city farming community. In my humble opinion an opportunity wasted.
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