Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing Betsy Kalin the enigmatic, award-winning producer/director/writer at Itchy Bee Productions and Bluewater Media.
Betsy wrote, directed and produced the amazing documentary, East LA Interchange, a project that took 9 years to complete and in my humble opinion has been well worth the effort.
This is an important film that was not lost on the Los Angeles City Historical Society. They gave Betsy the Society’s J. Thomas Owen Award for illuminating L.A. history.
East LA Interchange explores the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Boyle Heights is one of the most diverse city’s throughout the USA. At one time it was populated by the largest settlement of Jews west of Chicago. It was home to immigrants and first generation Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Latino, African Americans, all living together, harmoniously.
As low income renters, the city was targeted by government policies, real estate laws and California planners, making owning a home almost impossible. Banks would lay claim to outlandish mortgages but give favorable terms if residents would move to Los Angeles suburbs.
While the residents of East LA, may have grown up looking at the Hollywood sign and dreaming of a way out, they didn’t expect 50,000 residents to displaced to make room for one of the world’s busiest freeway interchanges which joins together Interstate 5, Interstate 10, US Route 101, and California Route 60, s
Imagine sending your child off to school here, everyday sitting at their desks in schools that were built above the interchange where all the toxins and pollution settles.
Today, Boyle Heights is predominately Latino but folks you may recognize who grew up there was actor Anthony Quinn, musician and producer Will-i-am from Black Eyed peas, and of course author Josephina Lopez. The jews are now gone but The Breed Street Shul, an orthodox synagogue still stands and has been converted into a Community Centre.
The City is alive and vibrant and wonderful as is. Boyle Heights has a new fight on their hands, gentrification. A few art gallerys have moved in and folks say that this is the sign, that soon, what was quaint will become upscale, too expensive for local residents whose rents will rise, and once again, find themselves displaced because they are low income riders.
While East LA Interchange is not available for the public yet, it has been enjoyed by Educational facilities and is screened around the country at different events.
Can you believe that the residents of East LA Interchange have yet to see this amazing documentary about their home because their library’s can’t afford to purchase it.
As soon as I heard this, I thought that there was NO WAY that these residents were going to miss out on this amazing film. I pledged there and then that I would give a copy to the library, and Betsy can attest that one DVD is currently making it’s way to the very grateful, Robert Louis Stevenson Library. https://www.lapl.org/branches/robert-louis-stevenson /robert-louis-stevenson
All that Hollywood money and no one can afford to buy the library a copy of this important film? The cost..$295 US. Unfortunately, I’m Canadian, so I had to pay over 400.00 and NO for you cynical folks, I cannot write it off. Canada doesn’t allow us to write off donations OUTSIDE of Canada.:)
Well the are TWO other Libraries in Boyle Heights who would LOVE to enjoy having this film in their system too. So I am challenging EVERYONE &ANYONE to join me in educating the residents of Boyle Heights on their amazing History and if you buy the film, I am sure I could talk Betsy into letting you watch it too. .
To purchase either write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eastlainterchangefilm.com and purchase a copy there.