Dogtown Redemption
May 16, 10 pm

Dogtown Redemption

  • BY Amir Soltani & Chihiro Wimbush | IN Poverty
    Premiered May 16, 2016

About the Film

A surprising number of people make their living off our nation’s vast rivers of trash. Dogtown Redemption follows the lives of three of these people over the course of seven years: Jason Witt, the ultimate recycling hustler, who often hauls around a shopping cart that weighs over a ton; Landon Goodwin, a former minister who struggles with his own fall from grace; and Miss Hayok Kay, the daughter of a prominent Korean family and one-time drummer for popular 1980s Bay Area punk-polka band Polkacide, but now an economic castaway at the mercy of the streets. Each survives by redeeming bottles, cans, and assorted other recyclables in an area of West Oakland, California nicknamed “Dogtown.” MORE

Weaving in the fascinating, complex history of the area for context, the story revolves around Alliance Metals, a bustling recycling center that has divided the West Oakland neighborhood. Residents of new developments view Alliance as a noisy nuisance that attracts scavengers, drug dealers, and criminals. The rattle of the shopping carts, missing garbage cans, litter on the streets, public defecation, theft, crime, and trespassing are offered as evidence that the recyclers are a blight upon the neighborhood. But the center is the only constant in the life of these denizens of the street, and for many of them literally a lifeline, a financial hub, and a community center. Yet with commodity prices collapsing, neighbors calling for a ban on shopping cart traffic, and Alliance Metals slated to close in August 2016, the way of life is threatened for people like Miss Kay, whose own family abandoned her years ago, and for the devout Goodwin, so close to turning his life into a redemption story.

The question of who owns our garbage makes these otherwise marginal characters important voices in a conflict over race, class, mental health, and space in a modern American city. Dogtown Redemption humanizes this other America, one that many of us never see.

The Filmmakers

Amir Soltani (Director, Producer) is an Iranian American human rights activist who has worked in journalism, philanthropy, and business. He is the author of Zahra’s Paradise, a New York Times-bestselling graphic novel on Iran’s 2009 protests. Soltani studied history at Tufts and Harvard. Dogtown Redemption is his first documentary film.   

Chihiro Wimbush (Director, Co-Producer, Cinematographer) is a hapa, Oakland-based filmmaker. Most recently he served as editor of the award-winning Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm. With his wife Meena Srinivasan, he creates mindful media and education content via their nonprofit organization, A Lens Inside. Between chasing shopping carts and other stories, Wimbush writes and tries to lure his musical muse out of hiding. LESS

Film Credits

In Memory of Miss Hayok Kay

A Film by
Amir Soltani & Chihiro Wimbush

Directed by
Amir Soltani & Chihiro Wimbush

Produced by
Amir Soltani

Executive Producers
Jamie Wolf
Geralyn Dreyfous
Regina Scully
Abou Farman

Manuel Tsingaris

Delnaz Abadi
Ray Telles
Chihiro Wimbush
Denise Zmekhol

Director of Photography
Chihiro Wimbush

Pete Sears

Associate Producer
Zachary Stickney

Additional Camera
Mike Siv
John Fong
Kyle Parker

Additional Editing
Chihiro Wimbush

Story Consultants
Sarah Chayes
Jim Choi
Stefan Forbes
Richard Saiz
Steven Okazaki

Consulting Editor
Ken Schneider

Rita Brock
Gabriella Lettini
Richard Rodriguez
Robert Self
Lewis Watts
Donald Young

Post-Production Audio
Berkeley Sound Artists

Post-Production Supervisor
Sage Brucia

Color Finishing
Gary Coates

Film Title & Graphics
Bay Area Film Company

Poster Design
Susanne Weihl

Poster Illustration
Wendy Macnaughton

Archival Research
Yvan Itturiaga
Kenn Rabin

General Research
Carrie Bennet
Alisa Stepanian

Multimedia Advisors
Jann Haworth
Kurosh Valanejad

Distribution Strategist
Peter Broderick

Outreach Manager
Lauren Kawana

Tyson Casey
Alan Matthew Sanchez

Bogatin Corman & Gold

Tom Andres

Joyce Shue

Charles Whelan Insurance
Aladdin General Insurance

Additional Music

Archival Footage
Ward Abronski
Sf Examiner/john Storey

Fiscal Sponsors
San Francisco Film Society
Utah Film Center

Special Thanks
Thank you to all the staff, employees, clients and neighbors of Alliance Metals
Afshin Molavi
Art Choi
Badri & Hedayat Behbehani
Bahman & Lily Baktiari
Bonnie Grandel
Carol Johnson
Chris Metzler
Christine Castater
David Krauss
Farrokh-pars Family
Felicia Lowe
Firuzeh Mahmoudi
Gholam & Abbas Bayat
Greg Kloen
Heather Bowen
Jefferson Eaton
Jehane & Karim Ame
John & Arshia Fiske
Ken Saunders
Khalil Bendib
Kong Family
Lee Romney
Linda David
Mahban Family
Mark & Reiko Wimbush
Martin Rios
Meena Srinivasan
Michelle Carter
Mike Church
Natalie Marie Cole
Negeen Dahesh
Rami Karam
Reza Ladjevardian
Robert Rippberger
Ronen Landa
Roslin Sanders
Soltani Family
Stella Cheung
Susan Shelton
Terry Messman
Victor Ortiz
William Floyd Stickney
Yevette Ladd

Funding Provided by
California Humanities
Semnani Family Foundation
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program
The San Francisco Foundation
Nasiri Foundation
Berkeley Film Foundation
Mary Weinmann Charitable Trust
Dougan Family
Creative Visions
Andrew Tobias Fund
Pacific Pioneer Fund
Rafati Family Foundation
Leili Towfigh
Steiner King Foundation
Farshad Rafii
Simin Paksima
Alexandra Vacroux
Frederick Hertz & Randolph Langanbach
James Holbrook
Boona Cheema
And others. A complete list is available from PBS.

Dogtown Redemption Was Produced by Turningtime, LLC Which Is Solely Responsible for Its Content.
© 2016, Turningtime, Llc. All Rights Reserved.

Have you ever known people who were homeless, or been homeless yourself? Is there a place in your city for a recycling business like Alliance, and would you welcome its presence?


  • Mill Valley Film Festival
    Audience Favorite Award
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Have you ever known people who were homeless, or been homeless yourself? Is there a place in your city for a recycling business like Alliance, and would you welcome its presence?