Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #83: Laura Gabbert Hopes ‘City of Gold’ Encourages Audience Members to Explore Their Cities with Curiosity and an Open Mind

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #83: Laura Gabbert Hopes 'City of Gold' Encourages Audience Members to Explore Their Cities with Curiosity and an Open Mind

Laura Gabbert’s deep love for the City of Los Angeles is the inspiration for her newest documentary, “City of Gold.” It chronicles the journey of food critic Jonathan Gold, and identifies how his experiences expose a booming cultural movement. In Gabbert’s eyes, the food writing and city touring so intrinsic to the story evoke something much more universal: her film is an ode to exploration, and an impassioned call to curiosity and open-mindedness. 

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

Pulitzer Prize­-winning
critic Jonathan Gold casts his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement
in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of
his beloved Los Angeles.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

The film is a love letter to
Los Angeles.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I was born and raised in
Minneapolis, but I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 1995 when I moved here to go
to graduate school in film at UCLA. I’ve worked in different arenas of
publishing, art and film (editing, feature film producing).

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Raising money was the
biggest challenge in making “City of Gold.” Because the documentary world is so
oriented towards social-impact films, it was hard to find money for a cultural
documentary. Many funders were uninterested in “City of Gold” because it didn’t
have a traditional “narrative arc” or “central conflict.”

What do you want Sundance audiences to take away from your film?

I hope audience members walk
away from “City of Gold” with a desire to explore their own cities with a sense
of curiosity and open-mindedness. I also hope audience members leave the film
with a new, more complex way of seeing the city of Los Angeles.

Any films inspire you?

Many… the Maysles Brothers’ “Grey
Gardens,” Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera,” “The Life and Times of Harvey
Milk,” and many Herzog documentaries. In the last year, I loved the Nick Cave
documentary “20,000 Days on Earth” and Wim Wenders’s film “Salt of the Earth.”

What’s next?

I’m working on another Los
Angeles-based cultural documentary… can’t say much more about it at this time.

What cameras did you shoot on?

DSLR 5D and Canon C300.

Did you crowdfund?

We did not crowd fund.

Why not?

The subject of our documentary was not comfortable with us raising money
this way.

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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