When a Los Angeles criminal court judge started a running club in Skid Row in 2012 he did it as a way to establish a road to recovery for those struggling with drugs and addiction. Nearly six years later, that story has spawned an award-winning documentary Skid Row Marathon that will be part of a special screening Saturday at the Long Beach Art Theatre.
The story of Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell establishing a running club with residents of the Skid Row-based Midnight Mission and taking those runners from homelessness to marathon finishers was captured by director Mark Hayes over a period of four years. His involvement in the club started by chance after reading a story in the Los Angeles Times about the club, which he said inspired him to show up and run with them and eventually film the club.
“This began a journey that has now lasted four years,” Hayes said in a statement. “Our film is about more than just running marathons. It’s about the camaraderie of an unlikely group of individuals who receive a second chance at life, all brought on by a simple act of kindness.”
The film documents their training and eventual trips to Africa and Italy where runners took part in international running competitions including the Rome marathon. Much of the funding came from Mitchell as he helped finance running shoes and even travel expenses for those who could not afford it themselves.
Skid Row Marathon has been celebrated for its storytelling and has taken home numerous awards from film festivals across California since its release last year. The production team for the film includes Doug Blush, a producer, director and editor whose most recent documentary, Icarus, won the Academy Award this year for best documentary film.
The Long Beach screening will be partnered with a question and answer forum with the filmmakers and some of the runners who were part of the film.
The screening of Skid Row Marathon will start at 11:00AM at The Art Theatre located at 2025 East 4th Street.