Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (2010)


(director: Thomas Q. Napper; screenwriter: Christine Triano; cinematographers: Christopher Gosch/Seamus McGarvey/Fortunato Procopio; editor: Tyler Hubby; music: Walter Werzowa; cast: Catherine Keener(Narrator), Lee Anne, O.G., Linda Harris, K.K., Bam Bam, Detroit, General Dogon, Danny Harris; Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Agi Orsi; Cinema Libre Studio; 2010)
“Takes us on an unglamorous but eye-popping tour of LA’s Skid Row.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The English-born director Thomas Q. Napper, the former second director on The Soloist, takes us on an unglamorous but eye-popping tour of LA’s Skid Row, shooting for 24 weeks in late 2008 and early 2009, where he follows eight unusual people who found a home there after their life fell apart and provides a sympathetic look at their misfortune for living in such a squalid and dangerous crime-ridden community. It’s narrated by Catherine Keener, who informs us Skid Row covers a 50-block unmapped area in downtown LA and that an estimated eleven thousand people reside there. The pic takes a political proactive approach to providing housing for the communities many homeless–many who are mentally ill and drug addicted. Skid Row is viewed as the last place to find refuge.

In today’s world the valuable land of Skid Row, highlighted by San Julian Street, is wanted by developers for gentrification, and their land grabs has increasingly forced the poor from a chance to retain affordable housing. We’re also informed that since Reagan closed the doors of the mental hospitals for treatment, the mentally ill have lived in the street and the police have become empowered to arrest the homeless as criminals. The pic shows that despite the city’s indifference to the citizens of Skid Row, there are advocates who do good work protecting the rights of the homeless. The shelter called the Midnight Mission, started in 1914 to shelter and feed the alcoholics, now deals mostly with younger crackheads and druggies who can enter their facility only if they pledge to get off drugs. Recently the Lamp Community opened its doors in a new building to provide food and shelter for the homeless, without any restrictions.

It’s a humanistic pic that shows there’s hope for even the most downtrodden if they desire it, and that’s in a large part because there are advocates taking up the fight of the disenfranchised to stop their evictions and protect their civil rights.