Interview With Shanks Rajendran, Filmmaker Behind the “Los Scandalous” Skid Row Documentary

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Shanks Rajendran is an Australian filmmaker who has made waves in the United States for his searing look at forgotten and ignored areas within big cities. His first documentary here, Liberty City: Miami explored South Florida’s toughest neighborhood from the inside, and was hailed as raw and searing by online reviewers. Now he’s come to Los Angeles to bring the same outsider-yet-insider point of view to our most deprived part of town- Skid Row.

What brought you to skid row?

When I first came to Los Angeles for a holiday two years ago I was sight seeing. I went to Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Hills, Staples Center and then my friend said: “Look I know you love doing documentaries so I want you to see something.”

Two blocks down he drove and there it was.  Something I’ve never heard of or seen.  SKID ROW. It was night time so there were just tents and tents and more tents. I saw people hanging around…saw a fight, saw a fire truck pulling someone out of a public bathroom, all that stuff. It was all happening right before my eyes within the period of a good 15-20 minutes.

Coming fresh from a place like Melbourne, Australia – I’ve never seen anything like this. It was one of the most confusing moments in my life… I remember asking myself  “What is this?”

As a documentarian, I live and breathe issues concerning poverty, deprivation and failures. At that point, I knew Skid Row was something I wanted to look into.

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Los Scandalous, a Raw Look at L.A.’s Skid Row

Australian filmmaker Shanks Rajendran, whose last documentary was on similar topics in Miami, has turned his eye to Skid Row. Check out this 3 minute trailer which begins with his first night out on the streets.

Narco Cultura Official Trailer

Shaul Schwarz was among the first photographers from outside Mexico to focus on covering the drug wars that have turned Juárez into one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Mr. Schwarz worked in Juárez from 2007 to 2009, and decided to make a feature documentary film about narco-culture in general and narcocorridos specifically. The violent lyrics, similar to gangster rap in the United States, here are juxtaposed with images of actual violence. It’s easy to caricature the culture, which most people enjoy for the music and not the violent imagery, similarly to what happened with hip-hop in the 1990′s in the US, which also faced spiralling drug-related violence. That said, the issues faced by the border towns sandwiched between the USA’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs and Mexican cartels’ willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain their position, are deadly serious. The challenge this film faces is to get people’s attention in the United States without making a one-dimensional cartoon out of the culture.

“Drug War”, New Film by Johnnie To ~ Opens Friday

This crime thriller directed by Hong Kong’s Johnnie To currently has 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and is only playing in NYC and LA for now. Opens this Friday so check your local listings.

Boris Karloff’s Guacamole Recipe

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The great Boris Karloff was born in England, found fame as Frankenstein’s monster (and also played Frankenstein, thank you, readers, for the correction) in Hollywood, and finished his career in Mexico (awesome example at the end of this post). Somewhere along the way he developed a strong affinity for Mexican food, as the article above, found on BadassDigest, explains, along with telling its readers that guac is an “avocado-based sauce”. His recipe for guacamole has an English twist, with a dash of sherry thrown in along with more common ingredients:

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Scenes From KCRW’s Style Wars Screening ~ Hollywood

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Piece by MEAR ONE

Last night, KCRW dropped a party on Hollywood celebrating the seminal New York graffiti flick Style Wars, working up to a screening of a restored print of the film with live art by L.A.’s own treacherous three, D-CYPHER, MEAR, and RISK, live b-boying by a crew from Long Beach, t-shirt printing from Hit ‘n Run (choice bits taken from the film for prints included “Just a Kid Growing Up” and “Art Is Not a Crime”) and a panel discussion between the film’s co-director, Henry Chalfaunt, actress Catherine Keener (who helped score the funding for the movie’s restoration), and SKEME, whose scenes between him and his mother in Style Wars are as legendary as his bombs. It was a nice night capped off by a big screen showing of the movie, which is as vital as ever even 30 years after it first came out. Maybe even more so now that it look so good and won’t just be available on some shitty VHS tape your brother’s friend’s cousin has to lend you. Check out some shots of the night, held at Oscars Outdoors, which offers film screenings every week. (Born in East L.A. on August 16!).

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And We Have A Winner For KCRW’s “Style Wars” Screening, Sunday in Hollywood

Style Wars

We have a winner for two tickets to this Sunday’s screening and discussion of the seminal 1983 graffiti flick “Style Wars,” going down through KCRW in Hollywood. We got a lot of great, insightful entries about how the film had changed people’s lives and perspectives stuff. But in the end, the prize goes to lucky reader The Krizzo for mastand-bys, complete with DJing by Anthony Valadez, t-shirt printing by Hit n Run, dance, food trucks, and a talk by the film’s director. Come check it out, Sunday at 6:00 at Oscars Outdoors. Check out full details online and see you Sunday!

Pretty Lights takes over Sonos Studio

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KCRW hosted a listening party  with electronic artist Pretty Lights aka Derek Vincent Smith to celebrate the release of his new album “A Color Map of The Sun”  at the exclusive Sonos Studio located in Los Angeles.

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Recap: Getting Up ~ The Tempt One Story

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The arts community came out to support artist TEMPT ONE, who was stricken with ALS and now uses his eyes to create art using a device called the EyeWriter. This inspiring story is told in the film “Getting Up: The Tempt One Story” which was screened at the event.

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Have you seen this boy? ~ Silverlake

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John Williams ~ Hollywood Bowl

John Williams w/ Gil Shaham ~ Hollywood Bowl

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