California and the American Dream

The last 35 years of divergent social trends have changed the state’s Hollywood dreamscape image of the past.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
April 13, 2006
240 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects

Paul Espinosa

Paul Espinosa is an award-winning independent filmmaker and producer who has produced, directed, written and executive produced numerous programs for PBS, including: The Border, a two-hour news magazine about contemporary life along the U.S.-Mexican border; The U.S. Mexican War: 1846-48, a four-hour documentary series; The Lemon Grove Incident; Show more and films for PBS’ American Experience (The Hunt For Pancho Villa, Los Mineros) and American Playhouse (… and the earth did not swallow him). Espinosa has won a national Emmy for Best Historical Program; five CINE Golden Eagle awards; two Ohio State Awards; and seven San Diego Emmys. Espinosa has served on the National Board of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, is a Professor at Arizona State University, and holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University. Show less


Lyn Goldfarb

Lyn Goldfarb is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is executive producer, director, producer and writer of Japan: Memoirs Of A Secret Empire and executive producer, director and producer for The Roman Empire In The First Century— two prime-time documentary series for PBS in association with Devillier Donegan Enterprises. She produced, Show more directed, and wrote Total War, for the BBC/PBS series, The Great War; We Have A Plan, for the PBS series The Great Depression; Ways to Move and Without Barriers and Borders for the PBS series People in Motion. She was producer and historian for the Academy Award-nominated documentary With Babies and Banners, in addition to documentaries on subjects ranging from child labor to health care. Her honors include two Emmys; a Peabody Award, two duPont-Columbia Awards, a Golden Mike Award, and a Cable ACE nomination. Goldfarb is an adjunct professor in film production at USC and an alumna of the directing workshop for women program at AFI. She holds a Masters degree in Women's Studies from George Washington University. Show less


Jed Riffe

Jed Riffe has been independently producing documentary films for broadcast on public television in the US (PBS), and Japan (NHK) since 1975. Riffe is best known as the Producer and Director of the award-winning dramatic documentary Ishi, the Last Yahi, which enjoyed a 14-month limited theatrical release prior to its broadcast on American Experience. Show more Riffe’s other independently produced public television documentaries include Who Owns the Past? for Independent Lens; Shut Up Sit Down and Listen for NHK-TV in Japan; and Rosebud to Dallas and Promise and Practice for regional broadcast on KERA-TV and KUSD-TV. Between 1999 and 2003, Riffe produced three HDTV programs in France, Brazil and the US. He most recently completed post-production on Waiting to Inhale, the first documentary to examine the national conflict over the legalization of cannabis for medicinal uses. Over the last 30 years, Riffe has produced a number of commercial and independent films, web sites, and interactive programs. He has a film, HDTV, and new-media production company in Berkeley, California, where he resides. Show less


Emiko Omori

Emiko Omori is a highly regarded cinematographer, writer, and director. At the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, she won the Best Documentary Cinematography Award for two films: her own, Rabbit In The Moon (also the recipient of a National Emmy), and Barbara Sonneborn’s Academy Award-nominated Regret To Inform. Omori was director and writer of Hot Summer Winds, American Playhouse Show more and KCET; and The Departure, a short narrative film. She was series producer for Pacific Diaries, a production of Pacific Islanders in communications; producer/director for Tattoo City, a documentary on the art of Japanese-style tattooing; and producer/director for Skin Stories, broadcast on PBS. Omori’s current project, The Technology of Orgasm, is in production for an early 2006 release. Show less

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The Film

California and the American Dream explores the dynamics of culture, community, and identity in one of the most diverse regions in the world. In the last 35 years, California has become a laboratory for divergent social trends. Together, these trends have so radically transformed the state that it bears little resemblance to the Hollywood dreamscape it projected in previous decades. In the post 9/11 era, California is center stage for an array of issues redefining the American agenda — from changing demographics to new models of civic engagement, from the role of immigrants in neighborhood life to the challenge to democracy by the initiative process, from sustainable agriculture to Native American gaming and sovereignty. The four-part series includes: “California’s Lost Tribes,” “The Price of Renewal,” “The New Los Angeles,” and “Ripe for Change.”