FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FILMING THE FREEWAY CITY
It took nearly a decade, but FREEWAY CITY, the story of Gardena, CA, is finally coming to a small screen near you. Independent filmmaker Max Votolato and Grammy Award nominated artist Brian O’Neal are proud to announce the online release of this epic and untold L.A. Story.
The documentary was shot, edited and directed by Max Votolato, a native of London, England who was so seduced by the city of Gardena’s eclectic past that he made a decade long commitment to bring it to the screen. The film features a rockin’, all original soundtrack performed by Gardena High School alum Brian O’Neal (“48 HRS.,” “Ghostbusters,” “Devil in a Blue Dress”) that recreates the many eras spanned in the 85 years since Gardena was incorporated.
FREEWAY CITY will premiere on November 23, 2015 and commemorates the 85th anniversary of Gardena’s incorporation – available to stream for free on Vimeo via www.FreewayCity.org.
A trailer for the film is now available for preview at www.FreewayCity.org
ABOUT THE FILM:
FREEWAY CITY is a provocative case study on how the collision of race, politics and casino economics shaped the destiny of Gardena, California. The film explores the narrative of a Los Angeles suburb that had its roots in agriculture, but grew into a nightlife heyday as the self-proclaimed “Poker Capital of the World”. FREEWAY CITY charts the massive social and economic shifts the city has been through in the 85 years since it was incorporated.
A virtual treasure trove of archival footage, photographs and newspaper clippings was unearthed to illustrate Gardena’s transformation from its beginnings as a backwater farming community to a post-war suburban boom town featuring an original soundtrack and interviews with the people who lived it.
The 90-minute film is divided into 16 parts:
1. IN THE BEGINNING:
Gardena’s early roots as a farming community.
2. PEARL HARBOR:
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Los Angeles' Japanese-American population, many of whom lived in Gardena, were relocated to internment camps for the duration of the war.
3. THE POST WAR ERA:
Gardena transformed into a booming Los Angeles suburb with newly built tract homes and a new breed of post war residents.
4. THE CASINOS:
One time “Poker Capital of the World”, Gardena became a gambling mecca in the 1930s and 1940s, when the city was home to six legal card clubs.
5. ERNIE PRIMM:
Ernie Primm was the Godfather of Gardena. He fought a lengthy legal battle to prove that poker was a “game of skill”, and not gambling, to win the legal right for the card clubs to exist in Gardena.
6. PUBLIC RELATIONS:
In an effort to avoid being voted out of the community, Ernie Primm began a decades long philanthropy effort in the city that ensured the survival of the card clubs.
7. SEX IN THE CITY:
Gardena was home to one of only a few local burlesque clubs – The Colony Club – in the 1940s and 1950s.
Recollections of the Watts riots and their close proximity to Gardena.
9. THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD:
The sweeping effect white flight had on the areas demographics.
10. GLORY DAYS:
1970s Gardena High School played backdrop to an emerging gang scene and the formation of Brian O’Neal’s first rock n’ roll band.
11. RISING SUN:
In 1972 Gardena elected Ken Nakaoka as the first Japanese-American mayor of a mainland USA city. Soon Toyota and many other Japanese corporations found a home for their US headquarters in the area. Gardena became a gateway city to the Pacific Rim.
12. PROP 13:
Passed by voters in 1978, the proposition decreased and limited property taxation in an effort that older Californians not be priced out of their homes. The loss in property tax revenues resulted in cities throughout Los Angeles county finally opening casinos of their own and caused Gardena’s card club monopoly to come to an end.
In 2000 Larry Flynt opened The Hustler Casino on the site of Gardena’s original El Dorado card club. Local political controversy ensued due to Larry Flynt’s decision to name the casino after his Hustler magazine.
14. STREET LIFE:
Explores the rise of the local G-13 street gang detailing its roots in small gatherings at the local teen community center in the 1970s.
15. THE FUTURE:
A cross section of Gardena’s notables discusses their visions of the city’s future.
A flashback to the days of the Ascot Park Speedway in Gardena, where Evel Knievel made his first televised jump.
FREEWAY CITY is Produced, Edited and Directed by Max Votolato.
Executive Produced and Original Music composed by Brian O’Neal.