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Arts and Entertainment

Check It Out: The Garden Opens in Theaters

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The once-thriving South Central collective garden. Photo courtesy Black Valley Films.

Not too long ago,LAist tried to turn you on to an absolutely wonderful documentary that hits closer to home than it ever should. It is engaging, enraging and honest. And like all documentaries, it deals with the actions and responsibilities of those around us, for better or (often) worse. It is The Garden.

When LAist last caught up with this film, it was at The Schindler House for a MAK Center event back in October, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Warm breezes, outdoor seating, and complimentary cocktails. And while a lot has happened since October (see also: Obama), The Garden has been quietly gaining steam and recognition for its honest approach to the once-beautiful South Central community garden.

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To summarize, The Garden opens at (where else) the garden in South Central, with views of downtown in one direction and urban sprawl towards points unknown in all others. Many local farmers are hard at work on their small plots, digging and planting and helping to create a sense of vibrancy in a community that can otherwise be so bleak. Which is, predictably, when things unfold. As the film presses on, it becomes staggeringly clear that political, financial, and vindictive motives are in place to try to see an end to the gardens, a space which was long ago abandoned and turned over to public use. With vibrant characters on both sides of the issue and amazing cameos by Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, and a funky musical interlude by none other than Zak De La Rocha himself, The Garden is simply a must see film for anyone who cares enough about LA’s history to sit in a movie theater and cry about it. I’m already waiting in line.

The Garden is currently screening at the Nuart Landmark Theatre.