Experiencing Interruptions?

East LA Interchange

East LA Interchange follows the evolution of working-class, immigrant Boyle Heights from multicultural to predominantly Latino. Boyle Heights was once far more diverse than most U.S. cities; Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and the largest settlement of Jews west of Chicago lived and worked together side by side. Targeted by government policies, real estate laws and California planners, the neighborhood survived the building of the largest and busiest freeway interchange system in North America. Will Boyle Heights, like many cities across the country, survive the next round of challenges from development and gentrification?

  • Bluewater Media
    Production Company
  • Betsy Kalin
  • Christine Louise Mills
  • Betsy Kalin
    Executive Producers
  • Eric Waterman
    Executive Producers
  • Christine Louise Mills
  • Vanessa Luna Bishop
  • Gretchen Warthen
  • will.i.am
    Key Cast
  • Danny Trejo
    Key Cast
  • Father Greg Boyle
    Key Cast
  • Josefina Lopez
    Key Cast
  • Momo Yashima
    Key Cast
  • Xavi Moreno
    Key Cast
  • Gretchen Warthen
  • Michael Feldman
  • Raul Pacheco
    Original Song
  • Michael Robinson
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Feature, Latino, Historical, Multiculturalism, Social Justice, Gentrification
  • Runtime:
    57 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 17, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA
    July 26, 2015
    World Premiere
    Winner of the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary
  • Hollywood Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    September 27, 2015
  • New Urbanism Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    October 8, 2015
    Winner of Best Feature Film
  • Highland Park Independent Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    October 10, 2015
    Winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Documentary
  • IndieFEST Film Awards
    La Jolla, CA
    Winner of the Award of Excellence for Documentary Feature
  • New Haven International Film Festival
    New Haven, CT
    November 14, 2015
  • Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
    Atlanta, GA
    February 7, 2016
  • Big Muddy Film Festival
    Carbondale, IL
    February 25, 2016
  • Richmond International Film Festival
    Richmond, VA
    Winner of the Honorable Mention Jury Award
  • Frozen River Film Festival
    Winona, MN
    February 28, 2016
    Winner of the Jury Award
  • Beloit International Film Festival
    Beloit, WI
    February 26, 2016
    Nominated for the Josh Burton Award for Excellence
  • San Diego Latino Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    March 19, 2016
  • San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    March 20, 2016
  • Palm Beach International Film Festival
    Palm Beach, FL
    April 8, 2016
  • Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    May 22, 2016
    Winner of the Audience Award for Short Documentary
  • SF DocFest
    San Francisco, CA
    June 5, 2016
  • Arlington International Film Festival
    Arlington, MA
    October 30, 2016
    Winner of the Best of Festival Jury Award
  • 26th Annual International National Association for Multicultural Education Conference NAME Multicultural Film Festival
    Cleveland, OH
    November 11, 2016
    Winner of the 2016 NAME Award for Best Film/Video
Distribution Information
  • Bluewater Media, Inc.
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Betsy Kalin

Betsy Kalin is an award-winning director/producer/writer at Itchy Bee Productions and Bluewater Media. She is a featured speaker at conferences, universities, film festivals, and community events. Her most recent documentary East LA Interchange was highlighted on NBC L.A. and has won ten jury and audience awards to date. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Los Angeles City Historical Society’s J. Thomas Owen Award for illuminating L.A. history. Her first film, Roof, premiered at New York City’s MoMA for New Directors/New Films and is a part of the Short Shorts compilation. Her films Chained!, Click, and Hearts Cracked Open have been honored with multiple awards at festivals around the world. She is currently teaching the Social Impact Media course in the Transformative Social Change Program at Saybrook University. She received a BA in Women’s Studies from Columbia College at Columbia University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Miami.

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Director Statement

When I moved to L.A. from the East Coast, I was floored by how much it defied every stereotype. There were so many neighborhoods and corners to explore, so much diversity, and an abundance of fantastic food experiences, but it wasn’t until I came to know Boyle Heights that I felt like I finally found the real L.A.

I was looking for a new documentary project when a mutual friend introduced Eric Waterman to me. Eric had an idea for a documentary kindled by his parents’ pride in growing up in Boyle Heights. He wanted to tell the story of this “Ellis Island of the West Coast” and give it its due place in history. I knew a little about Boyle Heights already because it had once been home to the largest Jewish community west of Chicago and my cousin taught at Murchison Street Elementary School there in the 1960s. However, nothing prepared me for how Boyle Heights would permeate my life during the next nine years. It got under my skin in such a profound way that I found myself falling in love with the place.

In researching East LA Interchange, I was first drawn to the activist history of Boyle Heights. I loved that this neighborhood became a hotbed of radical activism in Los Angeles because of discriminatory housing policies. L.A.’s prevalent racially restrictive housing covenants made Boyle Heights one of the few places in Los Angeles where Mexicans, Jews, African-Americans, Japanese, and other ethnic groups could rent or own property. Here, Eastern European communists and socialists were thrown together with Mexican anarchists and revolutionaries. Boyle Heights’ community activism originated in a shared awareness of discrimination and class; radical politics helped form a tight bond across racial and ethnic backgrounds and cemented the neighborhood’s status as a multicultural mecca.

Boyle Heights’ unique history drew me in but what made me realize that I had found the theme for my documentary was examining from the 1970s to the present. Even as the neighborhood became predominately Mexican American, Boyle Heights remained committed to activism and fighting for its rights as a low-income, immigrant, community of color. Residents today are just as determined to make their voices heard regarding economic and housing opportunities, social and environmental justice, non-discriminatory immigration policies, industrialization, and gentrification. How can anyone not root for a neighborhood that has actively fought discrimination and neglect for over eighty years? Seeing how much our divided, contemporary society wrestles with issues of building and sustaining community, Boyle Heights’ cohesive community activism throughout the years fascinated me. I was moved by the endurance of this “dynamic, politically tolerant and community-proud neighborhood” and believe East LA Interchange will inspire viewers here and in communities elsewhere facing similar issues.

After watching East LA Interchange, my hope is viewers will allow Boyle Heights into their hearts. Imagine what would happen in this country if everyone went back to their own communities with the same respect and pride that the people in Boyle Heights have for their neighborhood. Imagine what the U.S. could be if communities like Boyle Heights worked together to secure our nation’s pledge of providing equality and justice for all.