Get in Touch with the City with These Documentaries About Los Angeles

documentaries about los angeles

Are you tired of only streaming whatever new show you can find? Do you just keep binge-watching the same show over and over again? Maybe you are looking for a more fulfilling watching experience. This, along with a possible desire to explore the city while stuck at home, might be an interesting combination. Why not immerse yourself in some of these documentaries about Los Angeles? This way you can continue to explore the city while shaking up your viewing patterns.

Los Angeles Plays Itself

For a hundred years, while Los Angeles shaped movies, movies captured Los Angeles, delivering hundreds if not thousands of different cinematic portraits that each manages to show a little piece of the city’s eclectic and bizarre history. Los Angeles Plays Itself (2004) aims at exploring this phenomenon by showcasing the many ways in which the city has been immortalized in visual media. Mostly made out of clips from other media, it compares the real Los Angeles with the city you see in every other movie and TV show. If you want to learn how to look at the city in a different way, give one of the best documentaries about Los Angeles a watch. It’s available for streaming for free on Kanopy and for rent on Amazon, Vudu, and YouTube for under three dollars.

LA 92

Chronicling a turbulent time in the city’s history, LA 92 (2017) explores the 1992 Los Angeles riots as they turn twenty-five. In case you’re not familiar with them, these were a series of civil disturbances following a jury’s acquittal of four police officers for the usage of excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King. However, the documentary doesn’t stop with this brief instance of civil unrest. Instead, it chronicles it within the larger context of Los Angeles history. LA 92 is a haunting portrait of injustice and rebellion in the city since the Civil Rights movement. More than anything, it is a reminder of a battle that’s still ongoing. It is currently available to stream on Netflix.

City of Gold

You might be familiar with beloved Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold, who died in 2018. Throughout his life, Gold had an unparalleled love for the local food scene. “Los Angeles is a young city,” he wrote, “but it has always had its own cuisine, based on the quality of its produce, the ease of its style, the pleasantness of being able to barbecue outside in your shirtsleeves almost every day of the year.” His passion for the city and its countless eateries was immortalized in City of Gold (2015). This documentary follows Gold as he explores the Los Angeles culinary culture. Not only will you find his enthusiasm and curiosity immensely contagious, but you will be starving by the end. Are you looking to immerse yourself in a vibrant portrait of a diverse food scene? Rent City of Gold on Amazon, iTunes, or YouTube for under three dollars.

Other Documentaries About Los Angeles

  • Made in L.A. (2007) about Latina immigrants working in the local garment industry.
  • Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (2017) about a decade of civil unrest and tension.
  • The Source Family (2012) about a radical experiment in 1970s utopian living.

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