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Filmmakers Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer have completed principal editing of their new documentary, "Tales of the American.

 

The 146-minute Director's Cut is scheduled for private screenings for cast and crew, with a festival and distribution cut due in early 2018.

 

It was built for black Americans in 1905, adopted by ill-fated Japanese immigrants in the Roaring Twenties, abandoned for suburbia after Workd War II and reclaimed by a burgeoning artist community in the Reagan Era.

 

As the home of Al's Bar, the American Hotel was long a haven for creativity in a once-neglected section of Downtown Los Angeles.

 

It adapted with the times as what is now known as the Arts District grew up around it.

 

Today, a new owner has polished away many of the building's rough edges, but its bohemian spirit of revelry, freedom and community lives on in the memories of anyone who ever lived there, loved there, had a beer there or played pool there.

 

The American Hotel is an unlikely landmark in a changing city.

The Stories

Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have interviewed more than 80 residents, former residents and neighbors of the American Hotel. "Tales of the American" will weave together their stories and memories of nearly four decades in what is now known as the Arts District in eastern downtown Los Angeles.

The History

Built in 1905, the American Hotel was originally intended to provide a haven for black travelers and entertainers in the early 20th century, when other downtown hotels were segregated. It has withstood several earthquakes and the groundshaking punk scene that once rocked Al's Bar on the ground floor of the hotel.

 

 

The Setting

Originally surrounded by factories, warehouses and train tracks, the corner of Traction Avenue and Hewitt Street is now the hub of what the City of Los Angeles terms its Arts District. The brightly painted walls sport graffiti as well as sanctioned murals on streets that now are home to cafés, galleries, restaurants and theaters.

 

The Legacy

The infamous punk-rock dive Al's Bar, where bands such as White Stripes and Red Hot Chili Peppers played before fame found them, was located on the ground floor of the American Hotel for 21 years. Also, several exciting, if short-lived, L.A. art groups, such as 50 Bucks, Bedlam and Deep River Gallery, at one time called the hotel home. 

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© Tales of the American / Seemayer Studios LLC 2014