Release Date: Jan. 23 [limited]
Director: Stacy Peralta
Writers: Stacy Peralta & Sam
Cinematographer: Tony Hardmon
Studio/Run Time: Balance Vector,
Stacy Peralta, best known for his films
about skaters and surfers, may not seem like the best filmmaker to
untangle the complicated history of gang violence in Los Angeles. But
his previous film, Riding Giants, is one of the rare surfing
documentaries that appeals to non-surfers like myself, and applying
that same sense of storytelling and visual style to a weightier
subject actually works surprisingly well.
Watch the trailer for Crips & Bloods: Made in America:
In Crips & Bloods: Made in
America, Peralta tells the history and the present-day reality of
Southern California’s most notorious gangs, and he does it by
bringing his talking head interviews to life. Although he’s never
seen and rarely heard in the film, I can only assume that he’s an
excellent interviewer, able to illicit passionate, angry, articulate
commentary from mothers and gang bangers and community activists
whose lives have been forever affected.
On the other hand, his explanations for
why the gangs started are startlingly simple. He says that years ago,
many of these boys were rejected from the Boy Scouts. He carves up
the map of Los Angeles as if gangs are the one and only force in the
city, which ought to be named Ganglandia. He asks one guy if he’d
have turned to the thug life if he’d had other opportunities
available, and it’s the kind of dumbed-down question that seems
designed to be heard instead of answered; surely it's not the kind of
thing he says when he’s not wearing a microphone.
at work. As Werner Herzog says, sometimes film captures an “ecstatic
truth” even if what’s on screen is a fiction.