Coming to Los Angeles’ Arclight Hollywood tomorrow, Friday, December 7: LOST ANGELS: SKID ROW IS MY HOME
Thomas Q Napper’s exploration of life in LA’s Skid Row made its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2010. Since then, it has screened at IDFA, Big Sky, London’s Human Rights Watch, and Prague’s One World Human Rights Watch film festivals, among others.
Napper’s film, while perhaps over-relying on Catherine Keener’s narration, is clear in its purpose, as signaled by the doc’s subtitle – demonstrating that an area historically and presently written off by just about everyone actually has worth to its inhabitants. Importantly, the audience is permitted to hear from these denizens, in their own words, both in verité scenes on the streets as well as in structured one-on-one studio interviews. They represent the diversity of the inhabitants of the more than fifty blocks that the local LA government and police force would rather didn’t exist, and dispel myths about who is on Skid Row and why. Beyond showcasing strong characters on the fringes of society who are usually not afforded camera time – like transgender Bam Bam, activist General Dogon, or cat lady Lee Anne – Napper exposes the harsh policies being used by the city of Los Angeles to effectively criminalize the homeless and transient population, many of them with psychological disorders, and the encroachment of development that is gentrifying the area, pushing out Skid Row’s at-risk population.