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A year after the L.A. riots, it’s Hollywood, not the fourth estate, that continues to reveal why “people go crazy and burn down their neighborhoods,” says Allison Anders, director of last year’s low- budget hit, Gas Food Lodging. As proof, Anders offers her new film, Mi Vida Loca (due out this summer), which gives a voice to yet another segment of society usually ignored: the “homegirls” of L.A.’s Echo Park gang. Unlike the media stereotype, these women are independent, strong-willed, and hardly content to stand in men’s shadows. “Feminism has definitely reached these girls,” Anders says. “They don’t have the opportunities to back up their self-determination. So they express it in terms of gangs–or crime.” Seventeen-year-old Nelida Lopez (in the red shirt), who plays a character named Whisper, makes no apologies. “Everybody has a life,” she says, “and this is the life we chose.” Loca may be an unlikely story of women’s empowerment, but Anders, a single mother who lived in Echo Park for six years, still believes that “movies can tell us about our place, or lack of place, in our culture.”

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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