I first wrote about Humble Beauty: Skid Row Artists in December 2009. Since then, the film, written, produced, and directed by Judith Vogelsang and Letitia Schwartz, has been screened at numerous festivals throughout the United States and has won a number of awards, including an Accolade Competition Accolade Award and Best Local Documentary from FirstGlance Film Festival, Hollywood.
I wrote in my earlier post that we who have a roof over our heads, more than enough food to eat, and time to dream think we know who the homeless are but the filmmakers show us how little we know. They show us — through cinema verite, intimate interviews, and straightforward narrative — by sharing the stories of those who have few if any possessions but carry a treasure of images in their heads that find realization in oils, acrylics, watercolors, charcoal, pen, crayons, collage. An old paper bag, we learn, can be a canvas. Materials creatively re-sourced from dumpsters can be enough to put down a mark. The impetus to make something from nothing can create a community.
The one-hour documentary about a group of homeless and no-longer-homeless men and women on Skid Row in Los Angeles — a very real place* subject earlier this year to a "major cleanup" — is a testament to the power of art-making in the most humble of circumstances and is witness to art's transformative effects. Its moving message of how art can and does change lives remains as important today as when the film premiered in Los Angeles on September 11, 2008.
Getting that message out nationally, and even internationally, is critical. It is the reason I am writing again about Humble Beauty.
The film has a rare opportunity for national broadcast over PBS stations, beginning this fall; however, to take advantage of what Vogelsang and Schwartz call "a dream-come-true", the filmmakers must cover all expenses, including those associated with re-editing Humble Beauty to conform to the required format, purchasing extended music rights, designing and issuing publicity, and funding distribution. To that end, Vogelsang and Schwartz have launched on Indiegogo a crowd-funding campaign to raise $25,000 by the deadline of September 15.
Opportunities to donate (all contributions are tax-deductible) to the Humble Beauty campaign range from $10 to $5,000. Please join me in making a donation (I contributed last week). And if you cannot afford to make a monetary donation, please consider spreading word of the campaign via FaceBook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, and any other social media you use.
In the video below, Vogelsang and Schwartz talk about their film and the Indiegogo campaign. You'll find clips from the film at its Website.
Humble Beauty on FaceBook and YouTube
* "Life on the Streets", Los Angeles Times. Also see "History of Downtown Los Angeles's 'Skid Row'" (pdf)
The film's nonprofit fiscal sponsor is From the Heart Productions.