Politics was much a part of Sascha Rice's life as boyfriends, cars and school. Her mother served as California's State Treasurer and Kathleen Brown also ran for governor, losing to Pete Wilson.
Her grandfather, Pat Brown, served two terms as governor, and uncle Jerry is in his second stint as governor.
Rice grew up wondering why her grandfather's legacy was either misunderstood or virtually unknown by later generations of Californians. After all, Brown over saw one of the largest growth spurts any state in the nation could ever imagine.
She was also frustrated with the level of apathy and cynicism toward politicians these days. Thus the idea of a documentary was born.
"I wanted to tell his story. He was an ordinary man who became extraordinary by his actions," Rice said of her documentary 'California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown.' "He went to night law school and made a determination to make a difference. He thought of himself of a public servant. I wanted to help restore dignity to the profession."
'California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown' is one of 70 shorts and films to be shown during the United Nations Association Film Festival's International Documentary Film Festival at various locations in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and San Francisco. The festivals runs between October 18-28, with the full schedule announced opening night.
Festival founder Jasmina Bojic, a Stanford educator and film critic, is overseeing her 15th such event, with the theme of Human Dignity, this year. The theme helps celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
'California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown' was screened at the Palo Alto City Council Chambers recently, with Rice, Bojic, former mayors Vic Ojakian and Yorkio Kishimoto, current mayor Yiaway Yeh and vice-mayor Greg Scharff among those in attendance.
"It's a great opportunity to get an inside look at political power," said Rice, who also narrates the film. "You had to wheel and deal to get things done. Whether people intentionally elected officials to stop government from funding big or small government, it could still be a good source. I was excited to make this film to inspire people to rethink their apathy."
Both of Rice's parents graduated from Stanford and she spent a small portion of her childhood in Palo Alto.
'California State of Mind' began, Rice said, as a working title. "I'm a strict believer in short titles," she said. "I started the project eight years ago and there were a lot of starts and stops."
Rice also directed the romantic comedy 'Mango Kiss,' which made its debut in 2004.
Rice also found herself becoming absorbed in her research.
"It was all fascinating," she said. "Some of the footage I had never seen. The family had never seen."
The documentary reveals many previously unknown facts about Brown's youth and early political career. Her great grandfather, for example, led a less than stellar life and "Fire of Life Productions" is an acknowledge to that part of the family history.
The film will be featured at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Aquarius Theatre. Rice and Executive Producer Hilary Armstrong, also Brown's granddaughter, will be on hand to discuss the film afterward.
The Silent River Film Festival will also screen the film on Saturday, October13th, 6:25 p.m. in Irvine.
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