Los Angeles Now

Beyond Baywatch and Blade Runner, there's a fresh and candid future of America’s second largest and most multicultural city.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens, True Stories
Premiere Date
November 23, 2004
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects

Phillip Rodriguez

Phillip Rodriguez is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and veteran content provider for PBS. Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle won Best Documentary at the 2014 San Antonio CineFestival and 2014 Denver XicanIndie Festival. Latinos ’08 received a 2009 CINE Golden Eagle Award for Best News Analysis. Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream Show more was awarded the 2008 Imagen Award for Best TV Documentary. He is a former Senior Research Fellow for The Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Justice & Journalism at USC. In 2006, Rodriguez received the first annual USA Broad Fellow Award. This annual award, made by United States Artists (USA), honors the country's finest living artists. Currently, he is Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. His last four films for public television have been broadcast in primetime to wide acclaim. In 2002, Rodriguez founded City Projects, a production company whose films and educational programs challenge ideas about race and diversity in America. Rodriguez' documentary films bring to light the complexities of Latino culture, history, and identity at a time when our nation’s demographics reflect unprecedented growth in the Latino community and the concomitant demand for relevant storytelling. Show less

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The Film

Los Angeles, once the whitest city in America, is now the most multicultural city in the world. Yet the city’s cultural transformation has gone largely overlooked by the movies, the media and even by many of its residents. The entertainment industry continues to churn out outdated images of L.A. while ignoring the many new stories emerging from the city’s increasingly diverse population.

A rare and thoughtful evocation of a city, Los Angeles Now looks beyond Baywatch and Blade Runner to create a fresh and candid portrait of America’s second largest city following the close of its “Anglo century” (1900–2000). A fascinating look at a city where more than half of the population is Latino and 40 percent are foreign born, the film uses a groundbreaking high-definition format to explore challenging questions and provocative points of view.

How will the city’s new Latino and Asian majorities work with other ethnic groups to create a cultural consensus? What is the future of L.A.’s unprecedented multiculturalism — will the city’s many neighborhoods balkanize, or coalesce? And despite earthquakes and a seemingly insatiable desire to destroy and rebuild, can the city retain a sense of history?

Los Angeles Now includes conversations with a broad range of the city’s figures, from acclaimed actress Salma Hayek and businessman/ philanthropist Eli Broad, to renowned author and essayist Richard Rodriguez and Cardinal Roger Mahony. Far-reaching and thought-provoking, the issues explored in the film are relevant well beyond the borders of the city — a city that, as filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez says is “defined by its energy,” not by geographical boundaries.