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Heavy rain, more storms inbound for San Diego

 January 3, 2023 at 9:44 AM PST

S1: California is doused with rain is more on the way.

S2: And what we're looking at for January , especially the next two weeks , we're looking at a lot of rain for California.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. A new law sheds light on years of police misconduct.

S3: If communities are going to trust the police departments that serve them. They need to feel confident that those police departments have the capability to police their own.

S1: Frustration grows over failures to change Trump era immigration policies and what the loss of can cinema means for the film community. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Last year ended with wet and stormy weather and now it is following us into 2023. San Diego's most recent storm arrived late last night , bringing more rain and high winds to the region with another storm forecasted to hit Thursday. Despite the ongoing gloomy skies , San Diego has been spared the worst of the recent wet weather. Northern California saw near record amounts of rain last week and is bracing for more this week. And California's Sierra snowpack levels have reached heights not seen in over a decade , with more snowfall expected as well. Joining me is Alex tardy warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service here in San Diego. Alex , welcome back to the show.

S2: Thanks for having me on again.

S1: So San Diego ended the year with a good deal of rain.

S2: New Year's Eve was a soaker for the San Diego region and most of California. We're now right around average or the San Diego region. And parts of San Diego County are above average for what we call the water year , which starts on October one each year. So this is great news. To our north , it's been even wetter. And central California is above average , some places two times as much as they should be this time of year. So this is a remarkable start to the water year after. You know , we've been suffering almost three years of drought.

S1: The rain is continuing into 2023 , as you mentioned. Can we expect more wet weather ahead of this week ? Yes.

S2: So December turned out to be wet , as we talked about and what we're looking at for January , especially the next two weeks. We're looking at a lot of rain for California. So in San Diego area , we're talking in the next ten days , another two or three inches of rain for our mountains. You could double that easily in San Diego County. It's going to come in pieces. The first significant storm will be this Thursday. Well , we'll see a lot of high wind and heavy rain even in the San Diego area on Thursday. And then it's going to come again over the weekend , Sunday , Monday. And we could be talking over the next ten days , four or five different types of storms , including the rain we're seeing today in San Diego. So it's all going to add up to significant rainfall in January and really put us in a situation where we're much above average for the water year , which is great news because that means we'll make progress on the drought and in northern California. Keep in mind , this is the epicenter of the rain. It's right into central California where they're just going to see tremendous amounts of rain on top of what they've already seen in December. San Francisco , for example , had five and a half inches of rain , which was near a record. Just on New Year's Eve. So we're talking additional rainfall in that range over the next ten days.


S2: So this weather system or this series of weather system extends all the way into the western Pacific. So across the central Pacific , north of Hawaii and all the way into California , it's a weather pattern that is something we haven't seen since 2019. Now , will it add up to amounts that are more than 2018 , 2019 ? Remains to be seen. You mentioned the record snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. So the snow has been tremendous with the storms in early December and the most recent storms in our feet of snow much above average. Ultimately , what we need to see is the whole state being much above average. We're not there yet , but with this series of storms coming up , it's going to put us back to really where we should be and hopefully we can continue that in February and March. Unfortunately , though , when this rain comes so intense and affects the entire state of California , the result can be flooding , which we saw on New Year's Eve , even in San Diego. So we want the rain , but it is a little bit too much at once. Hmm.


S2: Some of the reservoirs in Sacramento area , for example , are receiving tremendous amount of water and they're now higher than they were this time last year. We got to keep that going. And it looks like based on the forecast , we will.


S2: Now it's , you know , one and a half to two times higher than average for this time of the year. And especially when we're talking about snowpack above 7000 feet. So the mountains in the Sierra Nevada , like Mammoth Mountain , for example , we're talking two times as much average snowpack. And that snowpack will sit there for a long time. So that's all good news and we'll factor that into the water supply. And that's why when you start getting a series of storms like this , it's a management challenge. How much water to keep , how much to let go , because you also have to account for that snow sitting up above 7000 feet. Our big reservoirs like Shasta and Oroville in California , have a long ways to go , but we are rapidly making progress on getting those back to where they should be.


S2: I think we should treat them as individual storms like the New Year's Eve storm or even the 85 degree weather we saw Christmas Day in San Diego. Individual storms , individual events. But what is a little bit concerning for sure is the three years of drought and then now a situation where we're pushing the envelope and talking about potential for additional flooding and excessive rainfall in in much of California. You know , when you look at three , four or five years and you see those extremes , yeah , that that could be related to some climate change , especially when you factor in our record Hot summers , our incredible active fire season and 20 , 20 , 2021. I think if you look at as a group or a collection of events , it's more a signal of some of the climate change we might be seeing rather than just one individual event , even if it's a spectacular event.

S1: Alex Tani is warning coordination , meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Diego. Alex , thanks for joining us and happy New Year to you.

S2: Thanks so much. Stay safe and dry. There will be a few breaks in the rain , but not a lot.

S1: Last year , KPBS detailed incidents of police discrimination and sexual harassment under a new state law. Senate Bill 16. But the San Diego Police Department hadn't released most of their sealed records until just last week. And while some hailed the new law as a critical step towards local police reform , others worry about the effectiveness of a measure that would see police officers investigating fellow police. Joining me now with more is San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Lindsey Weakly. Lindsey , welcome back.

S3: Yeah , thanks for having me.

S1: So can you start off by telling us about this bill ? I mean , this law is actually a year old , but it originally included a grace period for cases that's just now going into effect.

S3: Senate Bill 16 was actually passed about a year ago. And what it does is it builds on another landmark bill , which is Senate Bill 1421. And it makes a new batch of previously secret police records public. So the ones that are now releasable include when peace officers make unlawful arrests or searches when they use unreasonable or excessive force , when they fail to intervene , when another officer uses unreasonable or excessive force , or if they practice a variety of forms of discrimination , not just against members of the public , but to their colleagues.

S1: So how does the San Diego Police Department , compared to other agencies in terms of public transparency for cases of misconduct ? Yeah.

S3: So the Diego Police Department is one of the largest police agencies in the county. And so there are a lot more cases of misconduct when compared to other law enforcement agencies , but that's predominantly because of their size. The amount of records that were released recently was large. It was more than 80. And some of these cases go back decades. You know , I think one of the interesting things about San Diego police departments release is that their retention period is actually a lot longer than most law enforcement agencies. They keep their files for their police officers their entire career plus three years. So some of these cases are pretty old and that's pretty unique in sort of the law enforcement landscape.

S1: And one of the instances of misconduct you report on involves a case of racial discrimination. Can you tell us more about this incident ? Yeah.

S3: So this was one of the more recent incidents , actually. And we do sort of lead off with this incident. Essentially , a police sergeant was supervising a search of a business and the Osorio neighborhood and an officer was putting a Latino woman in handcuffs and he sort of steps in front of a police dog during this process. And the sergeant , according to these police records , says you're going to get bids. And then he follows that up with. But the dog only likes dark meat. It was actually another acting sergeant who reported that comment. And after an internal affairs investigation , it was found that that sergeant had committed racial discrimination and he was disciplined.

S1: I mean , and this was just one incident that was recently made public. Can you give us an idea of what other instances of misconduct have come to light ? Yeah.

S3: So we still have a fair bit to move through. I mean , these investigations are lengthy. Many of them are dozens of pages in total. There were thousands of pages of internal investigations. There are videos , there's audio. But from what we have gleaned so far , it's sort of all over the place. The one that I would say is we didn't see very often is the failure to intervene when another officer uses unreasonable or excessive force. However , that's mostly because those policies are actually relatively new for a lot of local police departments. We didn't really see those be codified until after the death of George Floyd.


S3: You know , if communities are going to trust the police departments that serve them , they need to feel confident that those police departments have the capability to police their own. And making these records public really is a step in the right direction as far as communicating to the public that , hey , we are we are watching ourselves , we are making sure that any allegations of misconduct are being investigated thoroughly. However , as you likely know , there are some criticisms to this law and the previous landmark bill , SB 1421.

S1: And let's dig into some of those criticisms. I mean , there have also been concerns about conflicts of interest and internal investigations going forward. Why is that ? Absolutely.

S3: So I think one of the primary criticisms that we. Here with these laws is that these especially with SB 16 , none of these documents can be released unless a department itself finds that the allegation is sustained or true. And a lot of people have an issue with that because they argue that police departments investigating themselves isn't necessarily the most unbiased thing. And now this goes so far as to say that even if some other body finds that an officer has committed this particular behavior , unless the department itself finds it , those files don't need to be released. So I'll give you an example. Say an officer is accused of committing discrimination. The police department does an investigation and finds. Nope , that is not sustained. We're exonerating that officer. Then a court case gets filed and a judge a jury finds that that officer did , in fact , commit racial discrimination. Now , while the court records themselves would be public , the initial investigation would not be because that officer and its department did not sustain the initial allegation.

S1: And then some police officials have expressed their own concerns over the potential impacts of this new bill.

S3: However , there was a fair bit of concern that releasing these records would further complicate the already challenging nature of attracting and retaining officers and deputies. Obviously , local departments , like many departments across the nation , have been having a hard time recruiting and retaining people for the force , and they really feel like these rules will further complicate those efforts. I think there's also some concerns that a mistake will sort of haunt an officer for the rest of his or her career , depending on sort of the nature of it.

S1: I've been speaking with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Lindsey Weekly. Lindsey , thank you so much for joining us today.

S3: Yeah , thanks so much for having me.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Heineman. 2022 was an eventful year for immigration policy. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with experts frustrated with President Joe Biden's inability to roll back some of the Trump era immigration policies.

S2: The Trump administration spent four years enacting hardline immigration policies. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some , I assume , are good people. They included building another border wall , restricting the U.S. asylum system and threatening to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals , which is known as DOCA. Two years into the Biden administration. Immigration advocates say that the rhetoric has changed from the Trump years. But the reality of what's actually going on in the border , well , that's largely stayed the same. Blame Booky is a legal director at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. She says Trump policies like Title 42 have radically changed the political discourse around asylum. Title 42 is a public health order that allows border officials to turn back asylum seekers without a court hearing.

S3: They have completely flipped our understanding of asylum. They have made it seem like access to asylum at our border is an aberration when actually it's these policies , these new policies only in the last few years that are the aberration. For 40 years before that , people were able to come to the border and seek asylum.

S2: While activists continue to decry Biden's approach to Title 42 and other immigration policies. Conservatives slam him for being too soft on border security. Advocates say that it isn't just asylum policies that have carried over from the Trump years. Dhaka is still under threat and the border wall continues to be expanded. Aaron Raichlen Melnick is the policy director for the American Immigration Council. He is among many who are frustrated with the fact that Dhaka is still frozen in place. The Obama era program provides protections to undocumented immigrants who came here as minors. No new Dakota applications have been processed since 2018 , when the Trump administration sought to end the program. Despite the Democrat control of the White House and Congress , nothing has changed when it comes to Dhaka. As of today , Dreamers and other undocumented youth have just as much insecurity in their lives as they did at the beginning of the year. Pedro Rios is the director of the US-Mexico Border program at the American Friends Service Committee. He says that advocates here remain frustrated over what they consider broken campaign promises. A particular sore spot for Rios is that the Border Patrol continues to block access to Friendship Park , which is located along the border just south of Imperial Beach. This is one of the only places along the Mexico border where people from either side can spend time together. We still don't have access to the area that is known as the enforcement zone. This is the area between the primary and secondary border barriers. And again , the rationale for not having access that doesn't necessarily make sense. On the Mexican side of the border , people who work with migrants also say that not much has changed in the last year. They point out racial inequities in border enforcement. Title 42 gives border officials the discretion to grant exemptions on a case by case basis. But Ukrainian refugees and other white European migrants have had easier access to those exemptions than black and brown migrants from Latin America. So , says Erika Pinedo , the executive director of Albert Rolando , the L.A. based legal rights organization that's helped hundreds of migrants in Mexico.

S3: I think , by and large , it's black and indigenous migrants who are left out , so it's not a fair process now. And I don't see the administration making plans to make it a fair process even after the end of Title 42.

S2: However , while advocates are not optimistic that 2023 will be much different than 2022 , they see some rays of hope. They point to a recent poll showing that a majority of Democrats and Republicans support offering asylum to people fleeing their homes. Again , here's Boogie from the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.

S3: You know , Americans see through that.

S2: She believes it's possible that the policy might catch up to public opinion. Regardless , we're likely in for another eventful year at the border. Gustavo Solis , KPBS News.

S1: After having a baby. Mothers are barraged with pressures to return to their pre-pregnancy lives and bodies. As KPCC's Jackie Fortier reports , it can take a toll on both mental and physical health during one of the most vulnerable periods of life.

S3: Soon after , Megan Gearhart gave birth in 2016. Acquaintances were quick to congratulate her on her appearance. I looked really good postpartum like my baby weight did not stick around. She may have looked like she'd snapped back. But physically and emotionally , she was suffering during the birth. Gearhart , who lives in Pomona , experienced an obstetric fistula , a hole torn between her anus and vagina. Her rectal sphincter was also completely severed. As a result , she couldn't control her bowel movements inwardly. I feel gross and I smell all the time , and I don't want to leave the house. And I'm fairly ashamed for insurance reasons. Gearhart had to wait for corrective surgery. She spent months raising a newborn while also struggling with incontinence. I cried a lot during those seven months. I was really happy to have this baby , but it was really it was really hard to not feel normal. She didn't want to tell strangers about her condition , but felt pressured to hang out with other new moms and none of the doctors who knew what she was going through asked about her mental health. I had this schism where I was outwardly everything looks fine and I've had this baby that I've wanted for years , but in reality I'm really a mess. Scroll through Instagram and TikTok and you'll see the immense pressure on postpartum women to look and act like pregnancy and birth never happened. It's known as snapback , the wellness being projected postpartum in this snapback framework. It's really about appearance. It's very much geared towards what you can post. That's Priya Batra. She's an OB-GYN in L.A.. She says the pressure to lose weight quickly can make birth injuries worse and healing harder. Both the strenuous exercise and the diet questions I get really are focused on quick weight loss and changes in the physical appearance , and they really don't align with the kind of nutrition you're looking for to support things like breastfeeding , to support things like healing after potentially a surgery. She emphasizes better support for services like home visiting programs and doulas. These great things that exist to support that role transition postpartum. Because I think as a society we ask you to snap back into every other piece of your life. The burden of returning to work , for example , coupled with comments from family or friends about a new mother's appearance , can be a toxic mix. A lot of it comes down to this idea of shame that if you're struggling , then it means that you're not doing it well enough. Angela In Lingo , Rodriguez studies weight stigma both during and after pregnancy. She's an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She's found it can cause concerning consequences things like increased risk for postpartum depression , less comfort , less intention to seek help with breastfeeding behavior. It was , ironically related to more weight gain over the pregnancy and then more weight retention after having the baby. Cutting out social media is almost impossible , but dialing it back could help. We don't yet know what type of content is actually empowering. Actually uplifting , actually supportive versus which types of content just perpetuate this cycle of creating unrealistic expectations and making you feel comparatively less. Turning away from social media helps Meghan Gerhart Instead of Instagram , she read Korean comics during late night feedings. She also limited her Google searches related to her fistula and surgery. That's going to calm me down a little bit and put me into more of a soothing state of mind than like a hyper state of mind. Six years after her corrective surgery , her condition has improved. She still has occasional leaks and carries a spare pair of underwear with her wherever she goes. I had a baby , I had a fistula , and I healed. And at the end of it I was just a different person , Gearhart says , speaking about her related depression and hearing from other women with fistulas would have helped and to learn that over time , her body would recover. It would just be different. I'm Jackie Fortier in Los Angeles.

S1: A recent study from the Rady School of Management finds when it comes to politics , Americans would rather hurt the cause they believe in than support the one they don't. So why is that ? I spoke with Ariel Friedman , co-author and Ph.D. candidate in Behavioral marketing at the Rady School of Management. I started by asking for his key takeaways. Yes.

S2: Yes. So we found that consistently across those three different causes , people would rather harm their own side than help the opposing side. And we found it across those three causes and across both people on both sides of each cause. So Democrats and Republicans , pro-life , pro-choice , they both behaved similarly. They would both rather subtract funding and hurt their side than add any kind of even a small amount of funding to the opposing side.

S1: Interesting and sad.

S2: We believe that one of the drivers of people's decision making in this in these kinds of contexts is their identity and how their choices impact their identity. And kind of to put it in a nutshell , we find that it's more harmful to one's identity to help the other side than to harm their own side. Hmm.

S1: Hmm.

S2: We also looked at other countries as well. So we looked at the UK , for example , and found a similar pattern of results there as well. Hmm.

S1: Hmm. And so , you know , I mean , it sounds like compromise and cooperation are difficult for Americans these days.

S2: And we think that this work kind of contributes to those psychological barriers. People , you know , just don't seem to want to make any concessions to an opposing side. And that really harms cooperation. And you can imagine that this might have big implications for , you know , in the political sphere , for example.

S1: And tell me more about this study that you did.

S2: So , for example , a donation to Republicans and a donation to Democrats. And we simply asked people , you have a choice to alter these donation amounts. Would you rather add a dollar to the opposing side or subtract a dollar from your side ? And we found that about 70% of participants , when they were asked this question , preferred to subtract a dollar from their side rather than add a dollar to the opposing side.


S2: So if people knew , for example , that a lot of others in their group. When faced with this decision , actually chose to help the other side. And people kind of copied that when the norm was established to kind of cooperate and , you know , kind of help the other side. People follow that norm. And we think that , you know , even in high stakes situations like in politics , having perhaps a prominent politicians cooperating and kind of coming together and perhaps ceding gains to the other side in the spirit of cooperation that can help others kind of follow that example. Mm hmm.

S1: And when it comes to political ideologies , I know you've said you want to expand your research to study people in other countries and cultures.

S2: And so we thought it could be interesting to look at other countries where polarization is not as dark , for example , and see whether we find a similar pattern there or if this is kind of , you know , unique to perhaps U.S. or Western countries.



S1: And in your study , you found some inconsistencies with prior theories on how people make decisions in group settings. What did you find ? Yes.

S2: So , you know , there are kind of two prominent prior theories on how people make decisions in such settings. One of them is kind of related to in-group love and shows that people are kind of driven by in-group love rather than outgroup hate when making decisions. And our findings seem to be inconsistent with that. I mean , if you're really driven by in-group love , why would you hurt your own side when you have the opportunity not to ? Another kind of prominent theory is kind of related to in-group favoritism , and it suggests that people want to create the most favorable relative comparison between their group and the other group. And our findings are , again , inconsistent with that theory , since harming your own side actually creates a worse relative comparison between your group and the other group. And so instead , we offer a theory that's related to identity and how identity plays a role in these decisions and can trump , you know , these other considerations.

S1: You can find this study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I've been speaking with Ariel Friedman , joint author and a Ph.D. candidate in behavioral marketing at the Rady School of Management. Ariel , thank you so much for joining us.

S2: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Heineman. The Ken Cinema has been a beloved landmark for San Diego film goers since the 1940s. But for the past two years , it's been vacant and now the building has been sold. Ethan Van Pollio is executive director of the Media Arts Center and attempted to lease and then buy the building during its closure. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with Van de Leo about what the loss of the can means for the film community and how he's trying to fill the gap.

S3: Ethan I have just received news that the Cannes cinema has been sold and is most likely not going to remain a theater.

S2: You know , it's been closed for a few years during the pandemic pre-pandemic , and so we've known it's been shuttered for many years. But I think there was a kind of hope that after the pandemic , you know , somebody would be able to purchase it and bring back movies to that wonderful cinema that we've really celebrated and enjoy for so many years.

S3: Now , as somebody who runs the San Diego Latino Film Festival and the digital gem Cinema.

S2: So even , you know , as soon as it closed a few years ago , we , we tried and first we tried to maybe just Lisa you know , just to just rent it to us. But unfortunately , you know , the property manager at the time , which was not budging in terms of like even giving us the opportunity to rent it because and then at some point and then the pandemic really hit us. And so we were kind of in survival mode in terms of a non-profit organization just trying to go to the virtual world. Right. But then eventually , I guess I guess about a year and a half ago or something like that , seems certain things started getting better for us as a nonprofit. People start going back to in-person programs and we started doing our Latino festival. And then so yeah , I reconnected with the property manager and then eventually this past summer , we found out that the Sentinel was going to be officially , you know , up for sale , you know , and so we could actually go inside. So we did a tour of the space , looked at it , looked at it all. And I again , I was surprised because I was like , Oh , my gosh , this is actually the seats are still there. You know , the screen is still there. There's even speakers on the wall. I actually got excited and I was like , Oh , we could turn this around pretty quickly. Yeah , a little bit. Maybe new paint , new carpet. And we would have had a cinema running really quickly. But , you know , just you once again , the challenges of , you know , purchasing a building like that , at that point I think it was over $5 million to purchase the whole corner , which included the restaurants. And , you know , I had looked into potential loans and I actually , you know , received some favorable responses from people who would actually give us the money to loan the space. But I you know , I just talked to other nonprofit leaders and other organizations and tried to get people excited about the idea of us purchasing the kids cinema. But when you look at a loan , you know , and you start looking at the current state of moviegoing audiences and the business model , you know , it seemed to be a challenge because , yeah , we could potentially bring in revenue from the , the leases of the restaurants that were connected to the movie theater. But you know what ? What was the movie theater going to actually make every week in terms of box office ? And , you know , if you were to ask me this question three or four years ago , I would have told you I would have been easily able to look at our current budget for the Digital Jim Cinema and tell you what what we bring in. But , you know , in this post-pandemic world that we live in , the everything everything's changed so drastically. Everyone is so used to seeing movies on their couches and Hulu and Amazon and Netflix. And so just trying to get a good , you know , budget good numbers to , you know , for the loan documents to tell everyone , yeah , we can do it. And so I think that I think the the monthly payment was going to be about $30,000. And so just trying to figure that , how is that going to pay that monthly ? The $30,000 proved to be a challenge in terms of the independent film side and the movie Go inside and yeah , maybe if we had special events , live music and yes , if we put a , you know , half a million dollars into redeveloping the place and turn into restaurant slash cinema , I mean , I'm sure there's lots of ideas , but again , we're living in a world where post-pandemic world that it's very difficult to to kind of see who will go to see movies again in person. And so it's a challenge. And really in the San Diego urban area , we don't have a single screen independent movie theater anymore. And so it's for those of us who've been around for many years , we've lost many great cinemas over the years.


S2: You know , especially at that time. And , you know , I would just love to read , you know , the landmark theaters when they owned it. They used to have the movie reviews. And so you would read like the The New York Times movie Review behind the flier of the movie. And it seems special. It seemed to be really unique. And it's a place not only for general audiences to celebrate independent cinema , to see foreign cinema , of cinema in different languages that they would otherwise wouldn't see , but also the young filmmakers of the world. You know , all the film students here in the region just go in there on a regular basis and learning from from the greats like Kurosawa or whoever it might be. And so losing that opportunity to see great independent cinema in a public space , a community space where you can watch the movie , and then afterwards you talk about the movie. And again , you know , the streaming services are wonderful. There's so many great opportunities , there's so much content out there , but there's something special about seeing it in a big movie theater , big screen surround sound , and then being with other , you know , lovers of cinema talking about film. You can't replace that. And so we believe as a nonprofit that we're going to continue fighting for that. You know , we we have the digital gym cinema in downtown San Diego now , park in market , beautiful new space. We're going to keep on fighting for this idea that cinema should be seen on the big screen and in person and together.

S1: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Ethan Van Bello , executive director of the Media Arts Center. India consistently produces about twice as many films as the US. American audiences are starting to embrace those films , thanks to streaming services such as Netflix and Prime that carry hundreds of titles. Back in May of last year , the film RR was in the top ten most watched Netflix movies , and it's now nominated for two Golden Globe awards and shortlisted for an Oscar. And San Diegans can catch it on the big screen this week at the Digital Gems Cinema KPBS. Cinema Junkie host Beth ACCOMANDO and Yazdi Power Traveller , co-host of the podcast movie Wallace discusses the success of RR and how well it represents Indian film with Andrew Bowen. Here's that interview.

S4: So RR is India's most expensive movie to date , and it's one of its highest grossing. Beth. Tell us what this film is about.

S3: All right. It's hard to condense it , but RR is inspired by a pair of historical figures , but it delivers more fantasy than facts as it gives us this bromance between two men who seem to be fighting on opposite sides. One is a villager rebelling against his British colonizers , while the other is working for them. So it's a three hour saga , which is typical for Indian films , and it features ridiculously gorgeous stars , crazy action set pieces and evil empire melodrama to swoon over. And of course , musical numbers like this one that are absolutely irresistible. And this one is kind of a dance off.

S5: Not salsa , not flamenco , my brother.

S2: Do not disengage , but steady nudge Berlitz asset Zulu raucous single talk at the natural bottom guitar polar bear to can nacho eaters happy days ago you got to your bed to not just because it has a pot of gold. It's all in nature if you don't want to go to bed together. Said Not sure.

S4: And I actually watched this video yesterday. It is very , very catchy. I cannot recommend it enough. So Yazdi , although this is a musical and it's from India , it is not considered Bollywood.

S2: Bollywood refers to films made in studios in Bombay , which is now Mumbai. However , from the very beginning , India has had a rich history of local cinema made in other parts of the country. Most recently , films made in South India have been gaining national attention because some of those films are just better films , period. Films made in the regional South Indian language of Telugu are particularly on the rise and getting a lot of attention. And those films are called Tollywood Films and Are is a great example of that.

S4: So Tollywood versus Bollywood. Good to know.

S3: He knows how to make everything feel epic in ways that play off of the kind of Bollywood traditions. And he mixes that in with kind of Indian mythology and delivers everything with kind of an affectionate wink to the audience , kind of saying that he knows this is over the top , he knows this is exaggerated , but he knows it's going to suck us in and make us like swoon and beg for more. So he's dialing it up not just to 11 , but to like a thousand. I mean , there is a torture scene where the guy breaks out into song and then in the next scene is fine. So it's just relentlessly and joyously over-the-top. And it's really easy to get completely sucked in by it.

S4: And in the West , sometimes we call that camp.

S2: Its two main leads are sons of ruling acting dynasties in South India. So having them both could lead a large budget blockbuster epic such as this almost guarantees maximal attendance in local theaters. But what's interesting are the other reasons for the remarkably unexpected , huge international following for this film. There are several reasons. This is maximalist cinema at its most maximal. There is no nuance here. There are no shades of grey. The bad guys are evil and extreme , and the good guys are downright gods. And there is something very elemental and primal about how this story is constructed. And there is an open , armed embrace of sentimentality that is uncommon in cinema these days. So I think both of these things speaks to the universal uptake for the film. And so in retrospect , this is not so much of a surprise. And add to that incredible action scenes and a soundtrack that's working really hard overtime all the time through all of the three hour running time. And you have , you know , something that is pretty , pretty remarkable.


S3: So , you know , think about actors like John Wayne and on up through Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone. They make fun , popular action films. But , you know , they also say something about a particular kind of American individualism and testosterone. So you can go in and just enjoy them as fun action movies , but you can also see how they're meant to stir a certain kind of patriotism or a certain way of thinking. So our gives us people fighting against an evil , very evil empire. And of course , we cheer them on and we want to see them win. But , you know , there's also this rousing sense of unquestioning nationalism that's going on as well. So I think the thing to think about is that Indian films are as prone to tropes and stereotypes as Hollywood is. But , you know , when they're wrapped in this foreign culture , we may not pick up on them quite as readily.


S2: And I'm like , okay. That said , the reason the film has raised more than a few eyebrows is this naked abandon. With Richard embraces a very particular kind of patriotism. It's a little bit hollow , but the drum beating doesn't end. And this kind of patriotism in this film at least goes further and often gleefully taps into a nationalist fervor. And I think it's relevant because the current reigning political party in India has long been accused of weaponising nationalistic rhetoric to exalt Hinduism , often to the detriment of people of other faiths that are living in India. And when the last half hour of this film sees its heroes actually take on what are unmistakable incarnations of the Hindu gods , Rama and Bima , then you've got to scratch your head about the film's agenda. Is this thinly veiled nationalistic propaganda or innocent entertainment ? You get to decide when you watch it go.

S1: That was Yazdi for Tabla , co-host of the podcast movie Wireless and KPBS Cinema Junkie. Host Beth ACCOMANDO , speaking with KPBS is Andrew Vo. And last fall , RR is playing this week at the Digital Gem Cinema.

S2: Good to do this because the market is looking not just a little bit ahead to market day. Is this real hot energy ? I mean. I got up and this afternoon I told the Yankees , all of them , to come out of their city , not to pick on some good guys.

UU: And not so hard that it's hard to go in. That's holding on to a not so much a not so much A not to be in too much or not too much beyond. I don't know what's going on tonight , but what I told you when I told you this , I like it , but I told.

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