57,000 people currently call the streets of Skid Row Los Angeles home. Yes, 57,000 are homeless. Frankly, if the state can’t or won’t do anything, how can you or I as an individual make a difference. Well, Judge Craig Mitchell does – as a one man marathon running machine he has managed to make a world of difference. You will be inspired and humbled when you hear the stories of Ben, Mody, Raphael and others. People are what they do and Judge Mitchell shows that by giving a little of yourself, you end up giving those less fortunate or battling their own issues some dignity. As he says at the end of the documentary – give a little of yourself – an encouraging word or a little time may make a huge difference. What would happen if you gave a little of yourself?
As a judge – his day job consists of sentencing people to whole life terms, but in his private life helps those who society has rejected by teaching them discipline through running marathons. The opening scene of this documentary sets the tone – even in sentencing someone to 75 years to life you can see how much it weighs on his mind. Then we get to discover how by being a little bit open to the world around him, the judge was invited by a former criminal he sentenced to come and visit the Midnight Mission on Skid Row, which people off the streets of skid row. He combined his love of running by giving those who had given up on life something to work towards; training for a marathon in Ghana and then Rome.
The individuals followed have had difficult lives some of their own making through being part of a gang, self destruction through drug use and the list goes on. Some of the individuals’ stories that we follow in the film are not particularly likeable and that is what makes the documentary so attractive. What the documentary does is not shy away from showing the reality but also what can happen when one person stands up and says I am willing to help you. In this fast paced world it is often easy to forget your humanity. Everyone deserves dignity and sometimes it takes a stranger to show them how to achieve that. Mark Hayes’s investigative and informative direction manages to convey life on skid row – the highs and the lows. It is hard to watch this and now become fully invested, you will cry with joy and frustration and most of all with joy that there are people with Judge Mitchell who says to another – you matter.
Skid Row Marathon is a must see. Make the sacrifice for one night and get inspired to see how giving a little bit of your time can change and improve the lives of those around you.
Skid Row Marathon will be in UK cinemas on 9 May – FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY. Tickets can be bought here: www.skidrowmarathontickets.co.uk. Judge Craig Mitchell completed his 74th marathon at the first London Marathon of his career on behalf of The Skid Row Running Club, The Big Issue and The Running Charity. Donations can be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/skidrowmarathon
This is one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in recent years. Inspiring, empowering and hopeful.
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