The Film

Two men, dressed in trendy overstuffed parka-style jackets mug for the camera. A DJ, wearing a terrycloth wristband and white t-shirt, works intensely at his turntables. A young woman dressed in purple satin and trendy glasses stops  in the crowded Grand Star to pose for a picture with a female friend.

For more than 60 years, the Grand Star has stood in the heart of Los Angeles' Chinatown, serving up drinks and dancing. But it’s not just an old-timer’s bar: the establishment also plays host nightly to one of the city’s most integrated clienteles, bringing together Los Angelenos of all ages, races and styles in search of music and community. In ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR, filmmaker Natasha Uppal celebrates the Grand Star’s unique scene.

A young female performer of Asian descent in a spaghetti-strap dress claps under the spotlight.

Under a cascade of silver hair, the elderly widow who frequents the Grand Star sits under an amber spotlight.

Since the Grand Star’s opening in 1941, stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Rourke and Henry Miller—as well as countless locals and other “regulars”—have graced the bar’s deep-set booths and retro-red lounge. Today, Asian silk prints and aging celebrity photos serve as deft reminders that the Grand Star is the real deal. And as the film reveals, the Grand Star's present is as hot as its past. In its current incarnation, the crowd packs the house, flocking downstairs to hear cool jazz in the lounge and upstairs to get moving to raucous dance music.

ONE NIGHT AT THE GRAND STAR introduces loyal regulars such as busboy Lalo Torrez, a veteran of the Grand Star for over 35 years; DJ Alfred Hawkins, a young soul spinner from the South; and a 60-something widow who comes religiously every weekend to soak up the live jazz and the warm crowd. Fun and exuberant, this is a portrait of a dynamic local joint that continues to define community for generations of patrons.

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