By David Ertischek ’01
Betsy Kalin is an affiliated faculty member at Emerson Los Angeles, teaching a course in Social Impact Documentary. This semester, her 43-minute documentary for Spectrum News 1, Vision 2030: The Future of SoCal, was nominated for a Los Angeles area Emmy Award. Emerson Today talked to Kalin about the project and what she has coming up.
You directed and were the executive producer for the documentary Vision 2030: The Future of SoCal. Why did you want to be involved with this project?
With my documentary, East LA Interchange, about Boyle Heights, I was able to delve into Los Angeles history as well as community activism through the years on topics like gentrification, transit, and social, environmental, and racial justice. Vision 2030 was a perfect complement to my previous documentary. I was excited to further explore these topics and look at what is needed to have an equitable LA for everyone.
Vision 2030 was recently nominated for an Emmy in the Culture/History category. What did you think when you heard it was nominated?
I was very excited to hear about the Emmy nomination! Because the film was made for television broadcast, it was done in a short time period and I am extremely grateful to have all that hard work validated. I also was the researcher and the writer in addition to being the director and executive producer.
How do you think the Olympics will affect Los Angeles in 2028?
In the film, we show LA’s plan for the Olympics and talk about how it will be an environmentally sustainable Olympics. It’s hard to know what the future holds at this moment in time.
What surprised you about making the documentary? Things about yourself, or things you learned about the topics…
I was excited to find that many people and organizations are working to make LA a more equitable and sustainable city in the future. There’s a lot of work to do to get there, but it’s inspiring to hear about people’s different visions for this. The film’s subjects are on the ground now taking action to make a better city today and in the future.
I was also surprised to learn from the experts in the film about how much LA has in common with other cities across the U.S. A lot of the issues that LA is facing are ones that Boston, [New York], Chicago, Atlanta also need to address. LA does have its unique qualities, but there’s many similarities, too.
What are you working on now/next?
I’m producing and directing a documentary, Dreaming in Somali, which follows four Somali Americans in their daily lives as they confront racism, Islamophobia, sexism, and police violence while advocating for their Twin Cities community. We were scheduled to be filming now, but have had to postpone because of COVID-19 safety concerns.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you and the documentary?
The documentary can be viewed on Spectrum News 1, and I’m also interviewed about the documentary on the station’s website. The 72nd Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards will be presented July 18 at 7:00 pm on Emmys.com.