FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – For years Fresno’s motel drive has been notorious for crime, drug use, and even prostitution.
As the city has worked to try to clean up the stretch of motels along Golden State Boulevard, a documentary crew has been following one family for nearly eight years, and showcasing their story of navigating life through addiction, while they struggle to find consistent housing.
“Motel Drive” was shown to moviegoers at Fresno’s Tower Theater Wednesday night.
The film starts with a deep dive into the history of motels in Fresno. It highlights their shimmering lights and glistening pools of the 1960s, to the shootings, prostitution, and addiction that’s harbored there today. “Motel Drive” showcases the story of the notorious stretch of Golden State Boulevard. through the lens of the Shaw family.
“Very raw but real experiences, such as families being displaced when the hotels were torn down on Parkway Drive, sex work, the drugs, and the stuff that’s like always at play in that area of the neighborhood,” said Richard Burrell, founder of community organization Live Again Fresno.
The film shows a perspective Burrell says is all too common.
“This film documents one family and one child. We currently have 388 children who are currently enrolled in our after-school program,” he added.
Live Again Fresno serves the children living in the motels. They provide resources and educational support on top of advocating for shorter stays at the motels. Their work is featured in the film.
Spanning nearly eight years, the film even features interviews from then Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, where he spoke about how meth became so prevalent in Fresno, and how the state left Fresno and the valley behind.
Dyer even spoke in the film about high-speed rail, and his belief that it was going to transform downtown Fresno.
But the film also shows how high-speed rail impacts the Shaw family, showing the consequences when they’re told to leave their motel so the rail can take it over.
The film features various local and national news clippings and coverage over the years, showing how the issues with drugs and Motel Drive have evolved.
The film aims to document how policies led to what happened to lead families to live in motels.
“By seeing that, by watching that, we realize that we don’t make those same decisions, we make sure that we make different decisions and create different policies so that families never have to experience that again,” Burrell said.
All while humanizing the people living in the wake of its illicit activities, filth, and crime. Showing how the Shaw family, eventually makes it out.
“Just the incredible resilience of the Shaw family. And being able to just collectively persevere and pull together, and get themselves to a way better place,” Burrell said.
The film’s producers say the film’s been featured in festivals across the country, and they are working on a plan to bring the film to a streaming platform soon.