Skid Row Marathon (Mark Hayes, 2017) USA

Reviewed by Lynn Hartell.  Viewed at The Lobero Theater, Santa Barbara.

Skid Row Marathon, directed by Mark Hayes (Soviet Jews in the City of Angels), is a documentary that follows a group of homeless who train with a running club started by a judge.

Judge Craig Mitchell, an LA Country Superior Court Judge, has spent his career sending criminals to prison for crimes such as murder, drug dealing and rape.  Feeling powerless to make a positive change in the system, he started the Midnight Mission running club and invited homeless members of the mission to join him on his early morning runs through downtown Los Angeles.

We meet several members of the club as they train for their first marathon. Rafael Cabrera spent 29 years in federal prison for a gang murder. Reformed and now a parolee, he spends his time doing outreach to stop the cycle of gang violence. David Askew, an aspiring artist, was homeless for 10 years, often sleeping along the LA River. Rebecca Hayes is a recovering addict and single mom trying to be a good example for her young son. Ben Shirley weighed 300 pounds when he started running with the club.  A

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While We Live (Medhi Avaz, 2017): Denmark

Reviewed by Brianna Franklin. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Metropolitan 4 Theater.

In his first feature film, director Medhi Avaz explores the intricacies of tragedy and family. While We Live is an intimate look at four people living through the unimaginable. Avaz, along with his screenwriter brother, Milad, plays with time lines and camera angles to put forth a film about how people deal with (or not deal with) incredible pain.

The film stars Sebastian Jessen (Love is All You Need, Borgen) as Kristian, a solemn young man who is just trying to get to tomorrow, Julie Christiansen (Borgen, Wonderful Copenhagen), as Trine, a young mother and Kristian’s former girlfriend, Charlotte Munck (Headhunter, A War) as Hanne, Trine’s mother.

The film begins with a man who is at work, finding out his wife has gone into labor. He jumps in his car and drives towards the hospital. There is a loud crash, and a shot of glass breaking. From there, we jump ahead to Kristian working on a fishing boat, and then going home to cook his fiancé dinner. All seems fine until there is a knock at the door. Kristian answers and

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