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Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977$
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Joshua Glick

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293700

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293700.001.0001

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Numbering Our Days in Los Angeles, USA

Numbering Our Days in Los Angeles, USA

(p.175) 7 Numbering Our Days in Los Angeles, USA
Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977

Joshua Glick

University of California Press

This chapter considers more resistant forms of national remembrance than those created for the bicentennial celebrations. As Hollywood docudrama incorporated minorities into a streamlined vision of the American social fabric, alternative films depicted a more contentious relationship between a historic present and past. This chapter argues for the persistence of filmmakers’ interest in documentary, even as they experimented with other media or blended fiction and nonfiction. Long-form films and photo-books by the collective Visual Communications (Wataridori: Birds of Passage [1974] and In Movement: A Pictorial History of Asian America [1977]), documentaries made from the collaboration between anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff and director Lynne Littman (Number Our Days [1976]), and the artisanal filmmaking of Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep [1977]) presented more nuanced stories about the resilience of the city’s marginalized communities. Their work on Asian Americans in Little Tokyo, elderly Jews in Venice, and African Americans in Watts denounced national myths of bootstrap individualism and upward mobility, as well as industrial decentralization and uneven downtown redevelopment under the Bradley administration.

Keywords:   Visual Communications, Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett, Number Our Days, Little Tokyo

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