The Pico Neighborhood, a historically culturally diverse neighborhood of Santa Monica, is the subject of a new feature-length film combining narrative with standard documentary footage about what filmmaker Michael Barnard calls the vanishing American neighborhood.
90404 Changing looks at the loss of the community in the area due to gentrification and corporate development.
A screening of the film is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21st, at the Santa Monica College Main Stage, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the 90404 Changing Project, which includes the creation of a searchable on-line database of interviews with local community members and the creation of a curriculum for use by high school and college students.
The event is co-sponsored by Santa Monica College and 18th Street Arts Center, where Barnard is a resident artist. Barnard has lived on and off in the Pico Neighborhood since 1972.
A main driving point of the film is what Barnard describes as the corporatization of the area and the loss of community he sees taking place there.
“The evacuation of family businesses is very noticeable to people familiar with the area,” says Barnard. “We filmed at the last remaining black barber shop in Santa Monica.”
The loss of community and corporatization of communities is in no way unique to Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood, but this was the area Barnard knew best and could see most plainly, he says.
“I see what is happening in the Pico Neighborhood as a microcosm of what’s happening all over the world,” says Barnard. “It’s happening everywhere, not just in the United States. In many places, it is more severe and less humane.
“It’s been proven over and over that the primary interest of most large corporations is to make money. Social interests and responsibility to the community are not what they are about. If the corporations are left to their own device, these areas become simply a place to work and buy stuff. That’s it.”
“I’m not anti-capitalist by any means. We all need to find a way to make money, but what is happening to the quality of the community needs to be considered. We need to consider ways to manage this,” Barnard says.
The loss of neighborhood began after World War II, was exacerbated once the Santa Monica Freeway was built in the 1960s and has increased drastically in recent years, says Barnard.
Barnard has been making films, artworks and music for approximately 30 years. He most recently produced and photographed second unit and main title footage for the Disney Channel’s Tiger Cruise and Sony’s Jackie Chan movie The Medallion Medallion.
He also co-produced, photographed, and co-edited Cries Of Silence, an independent feature starring Kathleen York, Karen Black and Ed Nelson. His feature-length documentary Chihuly River of Glass has been recently airing on the Sundance Channel. Also a fine artist, Barnard has created a series of photographic montage artworks called Photofields. These works have been assembled from Barnard’s personal archive of images that he has collected over the past 30 years from around the world.
His film works have included a series of early experimental “FieldFilms” in the 1960s and early ’70s. He has done a number of educational films and films for international nonprofit organizations, including Greenpeace.
In 90404 Changing, Barnard teams up with actor/writer/educator Paulina Sahagun, who has toured extensively throughout Mexico and the United States with Mexican theater groups Los Mascarones and Grupo Zero.
Sahagun is co-producer on the film along with Barnard and Barry Shabaka Henley, a character actor originally from New Orleans who has starred in a number of films directed by Michael Mann.
Information, (310) 434-3000.