.Opinion May 25, 2016


What I find most impressive about documentary filmmakers is their conviction. It takes incredible belief in the importance of what is often a very obscure subject to mount the usually years-long effort to bring a film about it to the screen. Talking to the directors and producers behind several of the documentaries at the Santa Cruz Film Festival for this week’s cover story, I gotta say my favorite thing was hearing about how they cycled through feelings of doubt, confidence, overconfidence, outrage and doubt again while working on their passion projects. Like, “How can no one know about this? I have to tell everyone about this! Wait, does anyone want to watch a film about this?”
What makes it even better is that the films that came out of these efforts are so diverse and fascinating; in fact, this may be my favorite group of documentaries from any year of the festival so far (and I was covering it back in its first year, 2002). Of course, I could only cover so many of this year’s features in my story, and it was crazy-making to have to leave out others, like Out of Sight, the in-depth look at how we think about trash made by UCSC film students, and Major!, the story of transgender crusader Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Plus, there are some really interesting narrative films like the post-apocalyptic tennis film (!!!) The Open. So, I hope you’ll read the story and then go straight to santacruzfilmfestival.org to see the full schedule of films, and then head over to their new, rather ingenious festival set-up at the Tannery Arts Center the first week of June.


Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Thinking Smart
Regarding the April 13 article about Smart Growth (“Building Up”): how livable Santa Cruz will be in 2040 does not depend as much on the height or placement of new buildings, but on how pedestrian and bike-friendly the spaces between them are. New biking and pedestrian corridors and space for outdoor seating are certainly essential, but a true test is how the city and developers take into account corridors that already exist. In the planned development at the corner of Soquel and Trevathan/Hagemann, the alleyway behind May’s Sushi serves as the connecting point to Arana Gulch and the harbor for joggers, kids on bikes, strollers, dog walkers, and many others from surrounding neighborhoods. Will this corner and alley be developed without adding designated space for bikes and pedestrians—turning the quiet alley into a dangerous concentration of two-way traffic that forces locals to now drive to the Gulch? Or will the plan value and consider locals who have used this corridor for decades? The answer to this question and others like it, in every place high-rise apartments are built, will determine how “smart” the growth really is, and if residents decide to flee the development or embrace it.
Jacob Sackin
Santa Cruz

We are so fortunate that Jimmy Panetta is interested in representing our community and serving our nation in Congress! If there is one thing we all know, it is that at the political level, we don’t and won’t agree on every issue that faces our community, let alone our nation. Therefore, we must rely on people who share a common set of values, make thoughtful decisions and have the ability to productively listen to and work with others to achieve a greater good. These are the precise characteristics that Jimmy represents.
Having been raised in our community, he understands our rich and diverse history, appreciates our current needs and has a vision for what is important for our future.  He has served our country as a veteran, spent a career as a public servant and volunteered his time and effort to countless organizations in our community. He clearly cares and clearly serves.
Jimmy was instrumental in helping our area get the first phase of the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery started at the former Fort Ord. As a member of the Board, he was able to effectively engage our political leaders, mobilize our community leaders and work with members of the Board to work through a variety of very complex issues and decisions. His decision-making is informed, practical, and he ensures that everyone involved is engaged and involved in the final outcome.
If you believe that our next representative in Congress needs to be intelligent, service-oriented, a great listener and collaborator, ethical, caring, and results-oriented, then I would urge you to vote for Jimmy Panetta.
Greg Nakanishi

Online Comments
Re: Burgers
Still cannot comprehend in 2016 why anyone still consumes a carnivore diet with all of the well known negative moral/health effects attached instead of selecting an herbivore diet that is much more beneficial for humans as well as the planet.
— Ray Jordan

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Santa Cruz’s celebration of art and the river returns in June, which the city has declared San Lorenzo River Month. At this year’s Ebb and Flow, Heidi Cramer is creating a public art sculpture that draws on the local landscape, plants and animals. The revelry will peak on June 18 with a walk along the levee, an art installation, and a Tanniversary event celebrating the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center’s new dance facility.


A local marketing/digital design agency recently joined the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the country. It isn’t the first big honor for McDill Associates, owned by Melissa McDill, who happens to be the mother of local singer/songwriter McCoy Tyler. Over the last three decades, the Soquel-based group has also won a number of awards for packaging and graphic design.


“In feature films, the director is God. In documentary films, God is the director.”

-Alfred Hitchcock


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