Marie D. Jones
“Cemetery Park” delivers a powerful, tragic and oftentimes infuriating true story about the way we treat those who have come before us, and how we measure the needs of the future against the importance of honoring the past. This superb quality documentary combines crisp visuals and an effective layer of atmospheric background music with a plethora of personal interviews, news footage, city council meetings, commentary, on site investigation and historical photos and images, done with professionalism and style thanks to the skills of filmmaker Brandon Alvis and his team. Many documentaries bore the viewer to tears, no matter how important or educational the subject matter may be. This one grabs and holds your interest from beginning to end as it unfolds the chronology of events involving a historical cemetery in the Ventura, California area that was desecrated and destroyed in the name of modern human need and greed.
Without giving away too many details, because this is a must-watch, “Cemetery Park” follows the crusade of many people, but one devoted man in particular, to expose the destruction of a massive burial ground with incredible historical value all for the sake of a modern parking lot and greenspace the city felt would be more usable and valuable. Reminiscent of the Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi,” “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” in this case, it wasn’t paradise but an important and sacred cemetery dating back to the mid 1800s with an incredibly rich historical value that was totally ignored, if not cruelly disregarded. We feel a sense of outrage as we learn the dark secrets of what was done to the headstones and above-ground crypts in the name of progress. More shocking is the revelation of those who were buried there, including the founders and builders of the very city itself! It must be seen to be believed.
No matter your interest in history or where you live, this is a timeless story about a blatant cover-up, the inexcusable disrespect of the dead, and the ensuing controversy as both sides of the equation offered their own pro and con arguments. This is a human story that presents the sad and unavoidable fallout of decisions made when we are asked to measure the preservation of the past against the progress of the present and future, served up in a truly satisfying and haunting documentary that will stay with you long after you stop watching.
— Marie D. Jones, best-selling author
Cemetery Park is a captivating exposé following families seeking justice for their departed loved ones. A masterfully crafted dive into recent history educates viewers about the desecration of a Ventura cemetery for the sake of so-called progress. This film takes a microcosmic view of a more macrocosmic issue threatening Americans and our way of life: the power of the church, state, and the wealthy putting their needs above the needs of the people.
— Thomas Durant. Editor - Ice Road Truckers/Ax Men/Deadliest Catch
Benjamin Franklin was once quoted saying, “Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have.” His words ring true even to this day, as we can see just what type of people live amongst us by the way our historic cemeteries are treated. In one such case in particular, it is apparent that the very people elected to represent the city of Ventura have been hiding a very dirty little secret about their predecessors' actions for far too long, and this upcoming documentary by film maker and historian, Brandon Alvis sets to expose these dark secrets that have been lurking just below the surface once and for all.
The county seat of Ventura County, known as San Buenaventura (or Ventura) has been covering up one of the most despicable cases of cemetery desecration that I have seen since researching the horrid activities that took place during the transition of moving the cemeteries out of San Francisco to the nearby "city of the dead," Colma. In this meticulously researched and well-presented documentary known as “Cemetery Park,” Mr. Alvis displays the truth about the heinous destruction of the pioneer cemetery that took place back in the 1960’s, as well as the steps the city took to sweep their actions under the rug for over the past five decades.
With a plethora of information, interviews, photographs and filmed footage of various city council meetings, the viewer gets to see for themselves the true facts surrounding the case, with no stone un-turned and no sugar-coating whatsoever. At times I found myself in tears because of the sadness I felt for those pioneers who had spent their lives building up the community around them, only to see their graves destroyed and their final resting place be desecrated by the newer generation of elected officials in order to make way for a dog park.
I was fortunate to get to see a pre-screening of this fantastic documentary, and I cannot say enough good things about it. With its beautiful formatting, visual effects, and musical score, the film pulls you into the story and as heart-breaking as the subject matter is, it keeps you enthralled to the very end.
I look forward to many more films from Mr. Alvis, as he is truly a talented and gifted film maker. It is apparent that he really puts his blood, sweat and tears into each one of his projects, which leads to perfection each and every time.
— J'aime Rubio. Author.