Lili White
76 min
color, sound

Airing Nov 22-28 and Dec 20-31, 2016
As part of the MARE program

Americaʼs West: where the good life includes sustainable income, development of land use, the rise of a town, and the horror of its crash and burn.

FOOLʼS GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROADTRIP IN AN ELECTION YEAR references the theme of greed and envy told through popular legends and stories of the livelihood and moral fiber of a once wealthy, small, and rural American mining community of Trona California; after a corporate layoff and its ensuing exodus; as told thru interviews with the remaining elderly population. Historic facts spanning the Gold Rush and the 1980ʼs of Reaganʼs presidential years, comments about “consciousness” and visuals of CAIN & ABEL, Zombies as “insatiable consumers” found in Michael Jacksonʼs THRILLER dance sequence, and desert landscape of the PINNACLES National Monument and DEATH VALLEY, display an American mindset that effects war and its economic circles, the housing crisis and global financial change, and the love for consumer products and celebrity.


Directorʼs STATEMENT: A sign on the edge of a desert town narrated its history. Upon reading it, other stories flashed thru my mind: the mythic story of CAIN AND ABEL, McTEAGUE (the American novel) and its cinematic counterpart GREED (directed by Eric Von Stroheim); and the presence of ZOMBIES who symbolize the wasteful consumer(ism) of human life; who can only be killed by disabling their brain.

My response also drew from the neighboring landscapes of DEATH VALLEY and the COSO MOUNTAIN RANGE where drinkable water is bestowed to the inhabitants of SEARLES VALLEY from CHINA LAKE — a place where ancient Native Americans carved signs into the rocks along its stream bed to honor the spirits there.


These impressions turned into a feature film: FOOLʼS GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROADTRIP IN AN ELECTION YEAR (color; sound; TRT: 76 minutes) whose central theme of “home” belongs to the American dream that has now been overturned, even into global economic crisis.

Interviewing elderly members of SEARLES VALLEY, who have grown up in the area and still live there, forms the backbone of this work. Their memories, joined to my musings, opens an area for dialogue and preserves unconscious and/or collective dreams before they slip away.


FOOLS GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP in an ELECTION YEAR, features Americaʼs dream of a better tomorrow; that asks: What is the nature of our “work” and how does that impact us, our surroundings and the environment?

We are drawn into a bizarre mix that includes a mining town, its adjoining attraction of unique prehistoric rock formations used by Hollywood for sci-fi sets, a salt lake bed and the mineral wealth of borax incorporated, along with personal stories of elderly residents who experienced the live-work experiment that eventually resulted in a mass layoff and exodus.


The edit weaves together different genres revealing actions, desires, and mindsets similar to those who gravitated to the West during the era of Manifest Destiny. Scientific and historic facts about the Gold Rush, the 1980′s and current times, entwine with the story of Cainʼs intention towards his brother Abel, and Zombies found in many horror movies, that parallel human desire and its habits of consumption.

FOOLʼS GOLD is composed of composite shots made with optical effects that alter speed, sound, and color, shot on different digital formats to achieve different textures, to present shifting perspectives that suggest psychological dimensions and intertwine with the personal accounts from Tronaʼs elderly population. The edit mix includes: actors in poses based on Tintorettoʼs Renaissance painting of CAIN & ABEL; references to the unconscious action of man told thru the Zombies of Michael Jacksonʼs 1983 THRILLER dance sequence presented at the Tribecca Film Festival THRILLERʼs 25th Anniversary Celebration; and commentary about “consciousness” from Dr. Theodore Dimon, Jr; and the nature of “horror” from Marta & Frank Russo of the M/F art GALLERY in Brooklyn NY.



Text titles from the film, GREED, combine with landscapes of Searles (salt) Lake; Native American petroglyphs found at the Chevlon Steps and the China Lake Navel Base; Death Valley, Pinnacles National Natural Monument and NYCʼs World Trade Memorial Site.

Why This, Why Now? — Iʼve been working on this for a few years,…During the Reagan years we started to see consumerism and a “me first” shift in American everyday life. From that era to the current time, seems somehow connected to the force of greed seen in society; thru the Madoff scandal, the housing crisis and global economy issues.


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