Category Archives: Movies

And the Winner Is…

“Small Changes” by Jennifer and Christopher Gandin Le!!

Tonight was the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition Screening and Awards ceremony, held at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. It was thrilling to see our work on a big screen and to hear the audience’s reaction. And it was even more thrilling to receive the Jury Prize, complete with big check and all!

For an encore, here it is again:

Written by Jennifer & Christopher Gandin Le
Edited by Matt Donaldson
Music by Liz Clark
Starring our brilliant friends and cohorts!

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Environment, Movies, Writing

"The Garden" and its South Central Farmers

I’m watching Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s 2008 documentary “The Garden,” a film about urban farmers in South Central Los Angeles and their fight against developers.

And I’m nearly speechless.

For 14 years, 350 familes grew their own food on this 14 acres, once scorched by riots and pain. It was the largest community garden in the U.S.



In 2006, the garden was bulldozed – all 150 plant species – and plans are underway to build a Forever 21 warehouse and distribution center on this land. This, even though the farmers had raised the money to buy the property from the developer. He’s on record as saying, his words smacking of self-righteous privilege, “Even if they raised $100 million, this group could not buy this property… It’s not about money. It’s about I don’t like their cause and I don’t like their conduct. So there’s no price I would sell it to them for.”



A flood of words get jammed in my fingers when I try to express how I feel about this. Did I mention that most of these farmers are Latinos and Latinas from the community? Are you surprised?

What I can manage to stammer is that this is the mark of everything wrong about the United States, about our dominator society. This is a prime example of what will destroy our national soul.

In the movie, there is footage of heavily armed police officers storming through tall rows of vegetables. If it were fiction, it would be hilarious. But it’s real, and it’s powerful and embarrassing.

The footage of carefully tended, productive, green vegetables, fruits, herbs, being torn up to put in concrete buildings just wrecks me. I feel that loss viscerally, and it makes me hungry for the social upending that will bring in a nurturing, partnership society. Right NOW.



Filed under Environment, Movies, Politics, Race

Watch My New Short Film: Small Changes

This week, I’m sharing my own work, because I’m so dang proud of it. Chris & I, along with our incredibly talented Austin-area friends, created this 2 minute water conservation PSA in response to RainBird’s “Intelligent Use of Water” film contest. Austin is in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years, and last week, officials announced even tighter water restrictions, so this awareness-raising contest comes at a crucial time.

We had a great time making this film, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. Enjoy!

Small Changes from Jennifer Gandin Le on Vimeo.

Written by Jennifer & Christopher Gandin Le
Edited by Matt Donaldson
Music by Liz Clark
Starring our brilliant friends and cohorts!

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Education, Environment, In The News, Movies, Politics, Science & Technology, Writing

Vote with Each Bite

Remember studying The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in Civics class? We read excerpts and made gagging noises when we got to the parts about rat pieces and feces found in American food. Maybe we didn’t quite understand the other call for social reform in the book: to end the profound mistreatment of immigrant workers at the turn of the century. 1906 seemed like another world. We had no idea how close this book hit to home, to now.

Everyone who eats should watch Food, Inc. Or at least the trailer.

Should you buy popcorn and M&Ms? Probably not– unless you can down them during the previews. This documentary isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s tasteful and informative. Most importantly, it argues for our right to knowledge, to be able to find out “what’s in the kitchen.”

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Filed under All The World, Environment, Health, In The News, Movies, Politics, Race

(500) Days of Summer: A Love Letter to a Not-Love-Story

500-days-of-summerDear Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marc Webb, Eric Steelberg, the producers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and everyone else involved in making the movie (500) Days of Summer,

I’ve been subconsciously writing this letter for four months, since I first saw your movie at SXSW. I wrote on this site about my screening experience, but looking back, my post seems flippant and doesn’t indicate the depth to which your story delighted me. My husband wasn’t with me at the SXSW screening, which was unfortunate, because as soon as the credits rolled, I knew he would see himself on that screen. (As will many, many men my age.) Last night, I took him to see the movie at another screening in town.

I loved the movie again, maybe even more this time. You have created a masterful film that captures countless desperately honest moments. It was a visceral pleasure to watch. And I want to articulate some of the reasons why it has touched me so significantly.

I’ll cut here so I can spill lots of spoilers below. (Crucial Minutiae readers, if you’re going to see this movie, bookmark this post and come back once you’ve seen it. I don’t want to ruin your viewing experience.)

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Random, Relationships, Writing

An Open Letter from a Female Director

via Ekwa MO and Melissa Silverstein

Ela Thier, a director and filmmaker for 20 years, wrote this letter about her experience in the film industry as a woman. It’s four pages of pure passion, focused specifically on fundraising for her new project, but it speaks to so much more than simple donation dollars. For example:

After years of learning, practicing, and teaching, after years of query letters, phone calls, meetings, film markets, panels, classes, LA trips, networking, more networking, even more networking, my scripts – those ones that this market reader liked better than the 150 scripts she read that summer – those scripts sit on a shelf. After years of trying and falling and getting up and trying, something finally dawned on me: maybe I’m not the most unlucky bastard that ever lived. Maybe I’m female.

There is no petition to draft. There is no policy to fight. Yet, of the 250 top-grossing films in any given year, 6% are directed by women; of the 50 top-grossing movies each year, roughly 5 star or focus on women. In 80 years of Oscar history, with roughly 250 directors receiving a nomination for best director, 3 nominations went to female directors. No woman director ever received an Oscar.

It would be so much easier if someone would just flat out say it: “You’re not a director. You’re a girl.”

As a screenwriter and aspiring filmmaker with my own taste of the industry, I often fight feelings of defeat and depression when I read statistics like this. It would be simplistic to blame all of the slow movement or rejections in my career on my being a woman; I know it’s more complicated than that. But I do wonder, what if I’d put the name “J. Gandin Le” or “J.G. Le” on the title pages of my scripts instead of “Jennifer”? And I’m a young, white, straight, middle-class woman who’s worked with a legendary filmmaker. I melt into a useless puddle when when I think of the challenges or downright refusals that women of color, transgendered people, lesbians, or poor women must face.

So I give major applause to Ela Thier for resisting that instinct to lose hope, for fighting, for putting her anger and frustration into such eloquent words, and for vowing to work 20 times harder if it means her work will make it into the world.

Read the full letter below the cut.

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Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Writing

A Father's Film Club

Film ClubDid you ever think that you were wasting your time in high school? That it wasn’t the best place for you to spend seven hours a day, five days a week? If you had determined this and you had failing grades to prove that you and high school were not a good fit, would your parents have let you stay home and watch movies all day?

David Gilmour’s book, The Film Club: A Memoir, came out last summer, but when I heard him read some of the final chapter on NPR yesterday, he had me near tears. And no, it wasn’t preggy hormones. Even Douglas McGrath, in his New York Times Book Review, said that the book moved him to tears… more than once.

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Filed under All The World, Education, Movies