Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story

Film by Jordan Mechner Premieres Nationally on “Independent Lens” ITVS's Acclaimed Series on PBS Hosted by Susan Sarandon Tuesday, June 7, 2005 at 10:00 P.M. (30 MINUTE) (check local listings)

Narrated by Cheech Marin and Scored by Ry Cooder, CHAVEZ RAVINE Explores the Betrayal of a Community by Greed, Political Hypocrisy and Good Intentions Gone Astray

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(San Francisco) Narrated by Cheech Marin and scored by Ry Cooder and Lalo Guerrero, Jordan Mechner's half-hour documentary tells the bittersweet story of how a small Mexican American community was destroyed by greed, political hypocrisy, and good intentions gone astray. Presented by ITVS, CHAVEZ RAVINE: A Los Angeles Story will air nationally on the Emmy Award Winning, PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Susan Sarandon, on Tuesday, June 7 at 10 P.M. (check local listings). 

In 1949, photographer Don Normark stumbled on Chavez 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 Los Angeles evicted the 300 families of Chavez Ravine to make way for a low-income public housing project. The land was cleared and homes, schools and the church were leveled. But instead of building the promised housing, the city sold the land to baseball owner Walter O'Malley, who built Dodger Stadium on the site. Fifty years later, filmmaker Jordan Mechner explores what happened, interviewing many of the one-time residents of Chavez Ravine as well as some of the officials who oversaw the destruction of the community. Told through Ry Cooder's score, archival news footage and Normark's haunting black-and-white photographs, CHAVEZ RAVINE reclaims and celebrates a lost village from a simpler time. 

Nonesuch/Perro Verde will release Ry Cooder's companion CD entitled Chavez Ravine on June 7, 2005, in conjunction with the national broadcast. The CHAVEZ RAVINE interactive companion website ( features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmakers, participant and crew bios as well as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a “Talkback” section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more. 

Writer/Director/Editor/Producer: Jordan Mechner
Photographer/Producer: Don Normark
Director of Photography/Producer: Andrew B. Andersen
Producer: Mark Moran
Executive Producer: Tomi Pierce
Production Manager: Jennifer Mechner
Music: Ry Cooder
Narrator: Cheech Marin 

Jordan Mechner (Writer/Director/Editor/Producer) has written and directed two award-winning short films, Waiting for Dark and CHAVEZ RAVINE: A Los Angeles Story. He is also one of the world's best-known videogame creators. His games including Karateka, Prince of Persia, The Last Express and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time have sold millions of copies and received worldwide critical acclaim. Mechner is currently working on a big screen adaptation of Prince of Persia for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures. He received his B.A. from Yale University. 

In 1949, Don Normark (Photographer) a freelance photographer, made the still photographs that largely illustrate CHAVEZ RAVINE: A Los Angeles Story. The film dramatizes the events related in his book of the same name, published by Chronicle Books. Normark's photographs of Chavez Ravine, as well as his more recent work, will be exhibited at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in the summer of 2005. Normark has illustrated many books and thousands of his travel and garden photographs have filled the pages of Sunset and other magazines. His photographs reside in the permanent collections of several museums. 

Independent Lens is an Emmy Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. Hosted by Susan Sarandon, the acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin to write in The New Yorker: “Watching Independent Lens... is like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS's premier kids TV programming and Website, PBS KIDS Online (, continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org Website on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. 

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Posted on May 5, 2005