Frogtown, Shorts on the New Urban Noir

about the single episodes

River Rafts
Ruben dreamed of becoming a designer but ended up as veteran of the notorious Frogtown gang, with bullets still aching in his body from the 1970s. He survived but swore to protect his people's heritage from being erased like the street graffiti of his childhood memories. So, he teamed up with filmmakers to steal Frogtown's story back.

Jigsaw Puzzles
Traumas accompany her entire life. So, healing became her profession. "In Los Angeles..." she says, "...therapeutic skills are a hard currency." Most recently she organized workshops for ladies with MeToo experiences and will host a gallery show with results.
To be safe, however, she returned to live with her adult children but avoids disagreements to prevent becoming homeless overnight.

Presidential Limousine
Charlie has been blocking his neighborhood streets with his rusty old-timer collection for 30 years. He is a "historian for hire" and firmly believes that a revival of early artists' colonies could create new common ground between divided politics, for which he dedicates an old state limousine from his collection for free Uber rides.

The Orchard
Letitia realized that the days of her family's era are over when she read in the news that Brad Pitt was hiding in her neighborhood. For years, trees have been cut down for new housing, warehouses were being replaced by design offices and the natural moonlight exchanged for prison lights. Her father's mom and pop store was also shut down. Now, however, she plans to reopen it as a supply store for the new colony of displaced "Urban Gypsies".

Birdhouse Village
David was born in Frogtown. He is the founder of the community garden "Jardin del Rio". He explains how his village is run by families, gangs, street culture, church, investors, Hollywood and the LA police. His goal is to bring the governance of Frogtown back into their own hands. But he knows, it is highest time, because the city is already sending in surveillance robots that look like R2D2 from the Star Wars galaxy to patrol their streets.

Taylor Yard
Cecilia, a widow and Mexican migrant, is tired of watching urban development repeat the discriminations of her past. Alarmed by the news that the toxic wasteland that fatally poisoned her husband should now become a park, she can no longer watch. She decides to get help from local artists and, together with them, create an illegal art piece to make the danger public.

“Frogtown” is an animated documentary about the transformation of an old working-class ghetto in Los Angeles into a desired neighborhood of the creative class.

For over 100 years, Frogtown has been tucked away between the Freeway 5 and the LA river. However, since the city announced that it would invest a billion dollars in redeveloping its riverfront, Frogtown's sleepy days are over. Since then, it's become the object of desire for developers, investors and speculators.  The investment, however, most devastatingly also hit long-time residents, who are caught in a downward spiral of displacement, identity loss and threatened cultural heritage. Politicians, in turn, call on them to adapt. The gasping gap this opens for residents is at the center of our film. "Frogtown" portraits real life stories directly responding to the existential threats by turning their traumas into business-sources for a precarious culture of survival.

All episodes are filmed with a vertical camera documenting the tension of unequal power relations. Like in a closeup satellite-image the protagonists appear isolated and miniaturized as toy-figures that are fighting the loss of their familiar world. While slowly moving through walk and talk scenes their neighborhood turns into the scenography of their stories, of attempts to rewrite the script that predicts their fate and to more than ever inscribe themselves into the future of Frogtown.

Orig. Title
Frogtown, Shorts on the New Urban Noir
53 min 30 sec
Gerhard Treml
Documentary, Avantgarde/Arts, Animation
Orig. Language
English, Spanish
English, German
Gerhard Treml
Gerhard Treml
Gerhard Treml
Klaus Fleischhacker, Andrew Hoffmann
Gerhard Treml
Edith Schwarzl, Franz Lorenz
Ruben Molina, Letitia Lopez, David De La Torre, Charlie Fisher, Vicky Gibson, Cecilia Dominguez
Bernard White, Jacky Katzmann, Sabina Zuniga Varela
Supported by
BMKOES, Wien Kultur, Niederösterreich Kultur, Land Salzburg
artistic collaboration
Leo Calice
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Color Format