Film | Planning | Design
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Redemption Square



A journey into the hidden world of Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles


Documentary + Web Series, 2018 | 19:40
Written, Directed & Edited by John Moody

In the footsteps of many unique Angelenos, a down-on-her-luck woman finds a new identity in Pershing Square, a notoriously unloved space in Downtown Los Angeles.

Produced by: Anne Whiston Spirn
Starring: Lorraine Morland & Lisa Biagiotti

Full credits

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Redemption Square explores how the design of public space can change a person's life. Begun as my masters thesis project at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the story takes viewers into Pershing Square during five eras of its transformation—from its creation in 1866 through its impending redesign today—guided by the voices of people who spend their time there and those who fight to redesign it. It offers an alternative vision for public life in LA based on the diverse perceptions, memories, and identities that come together in the park every day.

I hope this project helps people imagine their own stories in this place, to discover the spirit of the park and of public life in the city. To set up a screening or help make the project more interactive or accessible, please contact me!


Watch as Episodes

1. On My Mind

A mysterious woman serenades a lonely public park in downtown Los Angeles, remembering the ghosts of her past. (1:32) (more info...)


2. Campfire (1860s)

In 1866, a pioneer settler encounters a mother and son camping in the park in front of her house, while L.A. officials take steps to beautify the park as a new centerpiece for their expanding city. (1:55) (more info...)


3. Working Men (1900s)

In 1908, a visitor to L.A. encounters the greatest “working man’s park” he has ever seen, while the Park Board streamlines the park’s design to keep pace with surging business activity downtown. (2:07) (more info...)


4. Unafraid (1940s)

In 1944, a social misfit finds a new home amongst Pershing Square’s “ever-shifting group of people,” while a business association campaigns to transform the park into an underground parking garage. (2:25) (more info...)


5. Safe Haven (1980s)

In 1986, a woman with nowhere to go finds refuge in the run-down Pershing Square, while a new business association fights to redesign the park as a beacon for international investment in downtown L.A. (3:36) (more info...)


6. Versions of the Truth (2018)

A young journalist discovers a park that is not what it seems, while local officials push for a new design to capture downtown’s renewed identity. (6:01) (more info...)


7. Time in Place

In Pershing Square, two women reflect on life in Los Angeles and make an unusual connection. (3:40) (more info...)


Redemption Square Trailer