“PacoimaStories” is an epic documentary-film about the untold history of a small town in Los Angeles, whose incredible story defines what has become of the American dream. It tells of the struggle, sacrifice and the undying human spirit that have seemingly formed a convergence in one particular place. It has been there for hundreds of years and that place is called Pacoima.
The history of this small town has been overlooked by San Fernando Valley history books as that it has been an unofficial minority section of the valley since the 1930’s. People of color, at one point, were only allowed to purchase homes in the zip code 91331, due to racial covenants that segregated the land.
The history of Pacoima dates back to 450 AD when the Fernandeno- Tataviam tribe called this land “Pacoinga Village”. This group of Native Americans thrived until European conquerors largely wiped out the tribe and evicted the survivors from the land they called home for thousands of years. It was Charles Maclay who evicted the tribal captain Rogerio Rocha and left him on the side of the road in the dead of winter, so he could claim the cities natural water rights.
But despite the troubled past, Pacoima became the American dream for some and the American nightmare for others. Two communities, African American and Mexican American, who were conflicted at times but joined forces in times of discord to fight the challenges of living the American dream.
This powerful documentary traces the earliest history of Pacoima and the cities incredible growth. It will reveal the towns’ struggles through the 80’s and 90 when drugs, gangs and guns hijacked the community. Most importantly how they fought to retake their town, by forging a new educational model for their children that has reshaped the entire city.
“PacoimaStories: Land of Dreams” is written and directed by independent filmmaker Crystal Jackson, whose family came to Pacoima in 1935.
“Growing up hearing my grandmothers stories, and being part of the Pacoima experience had a tremendous impact on my life,” says Crystal. “This documentary is something I’ve wanted to do for many years. The story is powerful and epitomizes what the American dream has meant to many different people, for better and for worse. It’s a story that needs to be told.”
The film features a notable cast of Pacoimians including US Congressman Tony Cardenas, who discusses growing up Pacoima, USC Football All-American Anthony Davis, talking about his years at San Fernando High School, Comedian Gilbert Esquivel, who shares his struggles to get out of gang life and Dr. Yvonne Chan, Founding President of the Vaughn International Studies Academy in Pacoima.
“PacoimaStories” also features interviews from original community residents (now in their 90’s), along with R&B Singer Howard Huntsberry(lead singer "Klique"), who played the role of Jackie Wilson in the Pacoima native Ritchie Valens movie “La Bamba”. People that knew Ritchie Valens tell stories about the legendary singer and his impact on the community. Witnesses to the plane crash of 1957 over Pacoima junior high will share the horror of that tragic disaster.
“There is so much history in this small town I can’t wait for everyone to see it.” Crystal stated. “From the house parties, football games and cruising Hansen Dam there is so much we uncover in this film.”