• Still from Livermore

    Still from Livermore

The Film

When Rachel Raney and David Murray set out to create a film on suburban sprawl and the rise of “McTowns,” they never imagined the stories they’d find. The result is Livermore, part documentary, part fairytale, part mystery, and mostly comedy: a portrait of a formerly bucolic suburb threatened by rapid growth and change, and the handful of eccentric old-timers struggling to hold on to what makes their piece of small-town America unique.

As the filmmakers trained their camera on the town’s populace, a treasure trove of long-forgotten tales came tumbling forth. The year was 1969, and Livermore, California — an eclectic mix of ranchers and newly arrived nuclear physicists and suburbanites — was celebrating its 100th anniversary while adjusting to a booming population increase. Flush with town pride, civic leaders buried a Centennial Time Capsule. But when it was time to uncover the capsule 30 years later, no one could find it. How can a town with one of the nation’s top nuclear research laboratories “misplace” a simple metal box? As Rachel Raney says, “it seemed like a powerful if subtle metaphor of a town losing its identity.”

Livermore unearths a peculiar set of stories, including a supernatural light bulb, a cursed totem pole, and a scandalous photo collection. Interviews with residents including painter Tilli Calhoun, artist Adam Fortunate Eagle Nordwall and town historian Barry Schrader unravel Livermore’s hidden past through anecdotes, histories and local legends.

In an age of megastores, suburban sprawl and coast-to-coast homogenization, Livermore is a testament to the power of preservation and a celebration of old-fashioned civic pride.

The Filmmakers

  1. Rachel RaneyProducer
  2. David MurrayProducer