California and the American Dream explores the dynamics of culture, identity, and civic engagement within the most multi-ethnic state in America.

In the post 9/11 era, California is center stage for an array of issues that are re-defining the American agenda. Veteran filmmakers Lyn Goldfarb, Jed Riffe, Paul Espinosa and Emiko Omori offer a tantalizing look at these issues and current trends facing the “real” California —from changing demographics to new models of civic engagement, from the role of immigrants in neighborhood life to the democratic challenge of the initiative process, from sustainable agriculture to Native American gaming and sovereignty.

Each one of the four hour-long independently-produced films stands alone. However, taken together, the four episodes illuminate a question of unsurpassed importance to our nation: Can peoples of diverse cultures and thinking come together to redefine home, community and civic participation in ways that can lead to a sustainable society?

4-Hour Series. National Primetime PBS Broadcast, 2006.



  • Executive Producers: Lyn Goldfarb, Jed Riffe, Paul Espinosa
  • Produced and Directed by: Lyn Goldfarb, Jed Riffe, Paul Espinosa, Emiko Omori
  • Narrated by: Linda Hunt
  • Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer

Major funding was provided by PBS, The Ford Foundation, ITVS, Native American Public Telecommunications, Skirball Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, Center for Asian American Media, The Rockefeller Foundation and California Council for the Humanities California Documentary Project.


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Selected Reviews

“A stunning and realistic portrait of the California of everyone’s imagination. “

– The Hollywood Reporter, 2006

“They are animated by a raft of activists, organizers, scholars, scientists, farmers, workers, politicians, philanthropists and alternative thinkers, and sundry ordinary concerned citizens. I find them engrossing.”

– Los Angeles Times, 2006

“This four-part series is engrossing and often moving.”

– San Francisco Magazine, 2006

“The films that make up California and the American Dream tell compelling stories of conflict and change…illuminating the state’s complex interplay of  economic, social and political forces.”

– Current Magazine, 2005

“California and the American Dream is a little on the foursquare, earnest side, yet tenaciously reminds us of just how complex the issues confronting the state can be, not to mention the notion of how tricky serving the disparate interests of all residents can be.“

– Daily News, 2006

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