Price: $310.00

    Code: 2234

    Directed by Mylène Moreno
    2006, 58 minutes
    Purchase: $310 Classroom Rental: $125

    Recalling Orange County is a personal and incisive look at the immigration debate through the contenious recall of an immigrant rights activist in California and the fierce conflict it sparked within the Latino community.

    Once regarded as a wealthy, white, conservative enclave, Orange County has become less predictable, less tidy, more diverse, more interesting. In a word: Mexican. Filmmaker Mylene Moreno, whose family moved there in the seventies, returned to reflect on her youth as a daughter of immigrants and to see how much things have changed. She discovered Orange County was in the midst of a furious battle, a divisive campaign to recall school district trustee Nativo Lopez from the Santa Ana Unified Board of Education.

    A longtime advocate for undocumented immigrants, Lopez angered many residents with his staunch support of bilingual education and his decision to build a school for children of recent Mexican immigrants in an upscale neighborhood. The effort to remove Lopez from office, however, replete with charges of corruption (eventually dropped) and anti-Americanism, was started by a group of second and third generation Mexican-American mothers, and though bankrolled by a multi-millionaire and onetime Republican candidate for Governor, drew much of its support from the county's more assimilated Latino population.

    Incorporating interviews with current residents, including Nativo Lopez and his adversaries, Recalling Orange County is a fascinating chronicle of a political campaign that divided a community. The film attempts to understand the sources and repercussions of an at-times vitriolic battle, playing out in cities and towns across the United States, over what it means to be an American.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2006
    * Official Selection, Los Angeles Latino Film Festival, 2006


    “An unflinching examination of the 2003 toppling of former Santa Ana Unified School District trustee Nativo Lopez.” – O.C. Weekly

    Recalling Orange County stimulates a lot of rich discussion… [and] is very provocative, raising tremendous issues relevant to our work on cultural diversity in American Education.” - Gordon Suzuki, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA

    “If everything you knew about Orange County came from watching The OC, you’d be shocked to learn that only 3% of the kids who attend public schools in the county seat are white… Recalling Orange County joins Moreno’s own story about growing up there as the brown-skinned child of a Mexican father and French Canadian mother, with the story of the contentious effort to recall Latino school board member Nativo López, whose plan to build a new school in the heart of a rich white neighborhood unleashed a big kahuna of conflicts about race, class, immigration, property rights, language, politics and culture. Moreno depicts these complex issues with respect and sympathy for all sides. Her political message could not be more timely or relevant, and the hip soundtrack, vintage footage and beautiful family photos of the Moreno family make it a joy to watch. The film reminds us that conflicts about Mexican immigration define the American experience—but it also reminds us that our ability to transcend those conflicts is really ‘what it means to be an American.’" – Lisa Baldez, Dept. of Government and Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies, Dartmouth College