Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, July 29: HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY SALON
Glenn Holsten’s collaborative portrait of recovery and mental health screened at the Awareness Film Festival last year. Other screenings have included the Reel Mind Film Festival.
Holsten’s titular setting is housed within Philadelphia’s Germantown Recovery Community, a nonprofit mental health program that provides treatment and support to those suffering from mental illness or disability. The beauty salon offers staff and clients the chance to interact while providing a service, helping those who may have found themselves unable to tend to their appearances while dealing with the more serious issues of mental health. At the same time, the environment, like traditional hair parlors or barbershops, affords a natural space for conviviality and confessional conversation. Presided over by Rachel “Hollywood” Carr Timms, the salon is a safe space for those in recovery to express themselves and keep healing, and also offers room to let loose, like in the annual hair recovery show Hollywood plans to let her clients walk the runway showing themselves off. While this setting could have made for a heartfelt and quietly revealing portrait, Holsten perhaps takes a step too far, adding to his film a more metafilmic layer, as he involves a number of clients in the process of making short films about themselves and their mental health issues, in a variety of genres. This gives the project an overly scattered feel which unfortunately proves distracting. Still, the film does provide a welcome and necessary platform for its largely African American and female subjects to openly discuss struggles with mental health, pushing back against the cultural stigmas of addressing such topics within this community.