Skid Row Marathon, A Film by Mark Hayes
A Los Angeles judge starts a running club on Skid Row and helps its members get a second chance at life as they battle their addictions in award-winning documentary Skid Row Marathon
Opens March 22 at Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena ahead of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon
“It is a brilliant piece of documentary cinema.” - Michael Moore
Los Angeles, Calif. – There are 58,000 homeless people in the county of Los Angeles, which represents the largest concentration of homeless in the nation. When criminal court Judge Craig Mitchell starts a running club on LA’s notorious Skid Row and begins training a motley group of addicts and criminals to run marathons, lives begin to change. Directed by Mark Hayes, SKID ROW MARATHON follows Judge Mitchell and the members of the Midnight Mission Runners Club (now called Skid Row Running Club) over a period of four years. The Judge, who suffers from a painful spinal condition, has been told by his doctors to stop running, but he chooses to ignore their advice. He needs the club and the balance it provides in his life, giving him the opportunity to change the world in a way that he can’t in his own courtroom. If club members stay clean, off the streets and out of jail, the Judge will take them around the world to run marathons. The runners fight the pull of addiction and homelessness at every turn. Not everyone crosses the finish line. Their story is one of hope, friendship and dignity.
Winner of over 20 film festival awards including the Audience Awards for Best Documentary Film at the LA Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival, Skid Row Marathon will enjoy a theatrical release at Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena starting March 22, just two days ahead of the Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. Judge Mitchell and his running mates will be in attendance at screenings on opening night and throughout the week-long run for post-screening Q&As. The feature-length documentary was produced by Gabriele Hayes and Doug Blush. Blush is an award-winning producer, editor and director whose credits include 2018 Academy Award Best Documentary Winner Icarus, the 2012 nominee The Invisible War, and the 2013 Oscar Winner 20 Feet From Stardom.
In Skid Row Marathon we meet: David Askew, who lived on the streets of LA for 10 years before cleaning up his act and moving into the Midnight Mission, became one of the first members of the running club. He is an aspiring artist and is trying to get his career off the ground; Ben Shirley, who was a professional musician who played bass guitar in a heavy metal band. Alcohol and drugs destroyed his career. After losing everything, he found himself on Skid Row. He joined the running club weighing nearly 300 lbs. His goal is to study music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and compose for film and TV; Rafael Cabrera, who is out on parole for a serious crime – murder. He has spent most of his life in prison, but now that he’s out, he is helping families of the incarcerated. Recently, he was arrested with some old gang bangers and may have his life sentence reinstated; Rebecca Hayes, who lived on the streets of Seattle with her infant son. She moved to LA to start over. She continued her drug use and drinking and wound up in the Midnight Mission family shelter. Rebecca thrives on the discipline of running and has been trying to get a job as a surgical technician; Originally from Senegal, Mody Diop was attending college in New York, when his academic career was derailed by drugs and alcohol. He joined the running club and it gave him a new purpose. With the help of a club mentor, Mody opened a small luggage store. However, he relapsed and began living on the street again.
“When my wife (producer Gabriele Hayes) and I read an article in the LA Times about a judge who started a running club on skid row, the heart of LA’s homeless community, we decided to show up and run. This began a journey that has now lasted four years,” said Skid Row Marathon director Mark Hayes. “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.”
Judge Craig Mitchell’s mother passed away when he was 9 years old. Before she died, she took the him to Watts after the Watts Riots which had big impact on his life. After teaching high school in South Central Los Angeles for more than 17 years, Mitchell decided to go to law school. He went to work as a prosecutor in 1994 in the L.A. District Attorney’s office and became a judge in 2005.
Mark Hayes (Director) studied documentary filmmaking at New York University under renowned documentarian George Stoney. Mark traveled extensively through East Germany during the period leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. During that time, he picked up his future wife (Skid Row Marathon Producer Gabriele Hayes) hitchhiking. They were married but were not permitted to leave East Germany until the fall of the wall in 1989. Over the years, Mark has directed several documentaries related to the Cold War, which have aired on public television in the US, Europe and Australia.
Gabriele Hayes (Producer) was born in the former East Germany. After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, she moved to the US and now lives in Los Angeles. In 2011, Gabriele produced the documentary film One Germany, The Other Side of the Wall, which examines the reunification of Germany after 20 years. Her other documentary From Red State to Golden State (2013) tells the story of Soviet Jews and their families who immigrated to Los Angeles before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Director Mark Hayes
Producers Gabriele Hayes and Doug Blush
Editors Tchavdar Georgiev and Benjamin Dohrmann
Composer Kim Planert
Director of Photography James Stolz
Editorial Consultant Yana Gorskaya
USA - 2018 - 85 mins - Color - DCP