California Dreaming (2010) HD

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Bregtje van der Haak
documentary, california, economy

California is a strong brand, the state of new beginnings, dreams and movie stars, of surfers and a wonderful climate. But the Golden State is bankrupt and the city of Los Angeles is running out of cash. Public services are being cut and unemployment keeps rising. At the same time, optimism, entrepreneurship and the belief in the power of America are stronger than ever.

In Los Angeles, we meet five people who are going through a transformation in their lives during this crisis. Justin and Christine lost their jobs and are now living in a van with their two young sons. Charles has gotten out of prison after fourteen years. Mizuko prepares her children for the future by making them at ease in virtual reality. Laura has taken advantage of the crisis by buying land cheaply and starting an urban farm and artists collective Fallen Fruit maps the abundant free public fruit available in the city. Who are the pioneers who are reinventing the new America and how do they see the future?

About Backlight

Backlight, VPRO's weekly, 50-minute, Future Affairs- program, balances on the edge of storytelling and journalism. It focuses on our globalized world in which societies, economies and cultures seek a new equilibrium. Backlight aims to grasp the quintessence of prominent trends and developments.

The series shifts between two modes of communication: it provides in-depth analysis of new developments by leading intellectuals, visionaries and mavericks - the architects of change. At the same time, it applies daring cinematic techniques, capturing the effects these changes have on the daily lives of the real world's citizens.

Director: Bregtje van der Haak
Cinematography/Editing: Jean Counet
Sound: Joris van Ballegoijen
Research: Maren Merckx
Production: Mariska Schneider
Commissioning editors: Henneke Hagen/Jos de Putter
Broadcaster: VPRO Television/Backlight series

Bregtje van der Haak

Bregtje van der Haak (1966) is a documentary filmmaker, journalist and writer on contemporary culture. She was acting as editor-in-chief of VPRO television in 2006/2007 and recently led Urban Century, a cross media project on urban life for radio, television, internet and print.

Van der Haak directed Satellite Queens (2007), a widely distributed feature documentary about a popular all women talk show on Arab satellite TV. Earlier, she made the interactive film and museum installation Lagos: Wide and Close (2004, Sao Paulo Biennial) and the documentary film Saudi Solutions (2006) about career women in Saudi Arabia. Van der Haak has been directing international long format documentaries on social, political and cultural issues since 1998, focusing on long term change, notably globalisation and its effects on individuals.

She studied dance in Paris, political science and law at the University of Amsterdam and the New School for Social Research in New York and received a M.S. of Science from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. She was media Woman of the Year in 2006 and serves as a board member of the Prince Claus Fund and the Praemium Erasmianum.

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on July 04, 2013 at 8:01am



on June 12, 2012 at 8:14pm

This is just what people need to wake up to reality, we've been deceived by greed and materialism for so long that people seem to have forgotten what real life is all about "love and care for each other" disasters and famines are a tool for reality. Thank you for this documentary, to my opinion this is the best one on Vodo, there's nothing like good a taste of reality.


on October 23, 2011 at 4:05am

I can relate to this movie, I have lived in San Diego California and born. Jobs were easy to get but since the economy

dropped, I was living in my car for 2 years no job for that entire period, 2007 2009, I moved out of state
to nashville Tn to see if i Could have a opprotunity, and I have still been jobless I have been out of work for almost 4 years total
and I am sooo scared and I will be turing 40 years young, the older I get jobs will be harder to get, the companys will hire highschool
kids and pay them low wages and no benefits. If I was able to get work, I would love to donate, but not able to but, thanks for a real life movie.
I also have some videos I made,while I was homeless. they are not great quality and some of it is in the dark, with a cell phone, I found in the trash, I use to record


on October 22, 2011 at 12:08am

Thanks for a great movie, nicely done. :)


on April 17, 2011 at 7:52pm

Great movie! It should give motivation to people to change little things around them.


on February 18, 2011 at 9:31pm

I can't give it any further praise than has been done before me. I really love it. It would be cool if it were possible to do a follow up.


on January 04, 2011 at 9:55pm

Become self sufficient and self empowered,thts the message I got through your documentary.Women with kids talking about possible school scenario is really touching.
All Those Transformation shown in the film are awesome.Good work.!will surely promote it.I will have this documentary in my collection :)


on December 14, 2010 at 5:19am

beautifully shot and thought-provoking! really liked the scene that trails the social worker and the characters she visits on the beach. would've loved to see what happened to the blond lady with the donation box yelling 'flower power'...

looks like backlight is a great series too!