Free documentary movie screenings in San Pedro

Aimee Lastrella

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Starting this month through June 2011, Community Cinema, The Grand Vision Foundation and the PBS series Independent Lens will host award-winning documentary screenings at the Warner Grand for free.

The film selections, one screening each month, address current cultural and social issues.

After each hour-long screening, there will be a panel discussion, an on-stage interview or another exercise to engage discussion on the issue the film focused on that evening.

Community Cinema is a public education effort that stretches to more than 70 cities across the country.  Their aim is to unite communities in hopes to learn, discuss and connect in numerous ways to encourage community involvement.

Taran Schindler, outreach coordinator and co-director for the series at the Warner Grand, said San Pedro would be a great place for the project.

“One of San Pedro’s strongest points is community discussion,” Schindler said. “The series brings some of the most crucial national and global issues to our doorsteps. It will be very exciting to engage in discussions with professionals and community members that lead toward realistic solutions.”

One program in particular that is getting socially involved is San Pedro High School’s Docs Rock Program.

Students from San Pedro High School plan to take an active role during the screenings and will participate in the panel discussions, alongside instructor Tony Saavedra. The program works in contingency with the International Documentary Associate and Department of Cultural Affairs in Los Angeles.

The object of the curriculum is to give students the opportunity to understand all the aspects of creating a documentary film, Saavedra said.

“We are thrilled for the students to experience top quality documentaries as well as the public’s response,” Saavedra said. “This will be a lasting educational experience.”

Some of the films that will be featured in the nine-month series are “Pushing the Elephant,” “For Once in my Life,” “The Calling” and “Deep Down” among many other documentaries.

The first film to kick off the Community Cinemas project was screened on Oct. 1. “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian” by Neil Diamond highlighted a trip through the evolution of North American Native people as they are portrayed in silent films to the modern Hollywood film of today.

Most film screenings are on the first Friday of the month at 8 p.m.

November 5 –  “Deep Down”
An environmental documentary focused on a coal mining operation in Kentucky.

December 1 – “The Calling”
Daniel Alpert’s documentary focuses on young Americans becoming the nation’s next generation of religious leaders.

All films are open to the public and are free. Tickets will be on a first-come, first-served basis. For further details or to reserve tickets, visit grandvision.com or call (310) 833-4813.