“The Right to Breathe” is a signature documentary film, commissioned by the South Coast Air Quality District (AQMD), on the burden of air pollution on Southern California residents -- especially those who live in low-income, minority communities close to the sources of pollution. Individuals like USC student Otana Jakpar tell their stories of life in a region with the worst air quality in the nation.

“The other day,” she recalled, “it had just rained and I was walking to class and I noticed I could see the mountains; I didn’t realize you could see the mountains from where I was and I had been there for months. So if you grow up around here, you're used to smoggy days and you’re used to everything being like this and you might not necessarily realize it shouldn’t be like this.”

Hers is just one of many powerful narratives shared in this documentary film on air quality viewed from a personal and human perspective. Other stories include those of a community activist, a doctor at a children’s clinic, an inner-city priest and a mayor. Together, they weave an emotionally powerful experience for viewers, making them aware of the serious health effects of air pollution while also giving them reasons to expect that air quality will improve in the future.

The documentary was produced by the award-winning production firm Cinema Vertige.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for major portions of Los Angeles, and the counties of Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside.