The Garden (2008)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 2008.  Black Valley Films.  Screenplay by Scott Hamilton Kennedy.  Cinematography by Scott Hamilton Kennedy.  Produced by Scott Hamilton Kennedy.  Music by , .  Film Editing by , , Scott Hamilton Kennedy.  

Following the devastation of the L.A. riots in 1992, 14 acres of destroyed property in South Central Los Angeles were converted by founder Doris Bloch into a community garden, granting plots to local residents who used it for twelve years to grow their own food. In 2004, tenants were shocked to show up one morning and find eviction notices posted on the substantially large property, informing them that the private owner of the land wished to develop it for his own purposes and they all had sixty days before they would be barred from entering ever again. What could easily have been an open and shut case of private enterprise versus community standards gets complicated when the gardeners look into the matter: the property was purchased by the city from original owner Ralph Horowitz, then sold back to him under shady circumstances that were not disclosed to the public and whose legality is now questionable. This situation connects to the dubious interests of city councilwoman Jan Perry and community leader Juanita Tate, whose fundraising to use the property as a soccer field is mired in its own red tape and hints of corruption. Eighty minutes whiz by in this exceptional documentary that covers the various interests that surround what is a heartbreaking tragedy at its centre, the survival of this healthy beauty in the middle of discouraging urban blight against the overwhelming forces of politics and greed. The journey is a riveting one all the way to its explosive conclusion.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Documentary Feature

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