Movie Review: ‘Skid Row Marathon’ at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival

Skid Row Marathon is an amazing feature-length documentary about Judge Craig Mitchell and his running club in DTLA’s Skid Row. Judge Craig Mitchell is a judge of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County appointed by by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a Superior Court Judge he’s confronted with the daily task of officiating over cases involving people who have committed deplorable crimes, including murder, rape, and sexual assault. People who will be sentenced to many years in prison.

Judge Craig has a great passion for running and a faith-based social conscience that eventually led him to offer Skid Row indigents and victims a way out. These are seriously marginalized men and women living on the streets who are getting another opportunity at putting their lives back together through Judge Craig’s Running Club he runs with the Midnight Mission on Skid Row. Skid Row Marathon chronicles the ups and downs of these homeless folks as they run to retrieve and revitalize their destroyed lives with purpose, finding both success and self worth again.

Judge Craig leads a large group of  Skid Row runners now, but it wasn’t alway that way. The number of runners has built up over the years. Individuals who are included in the telling of this story are: Moby Diop, David Askew, Rebecca Hayes, Rafael Cabrera and Ben Shirley. This is a personal movie with real 3-dimensional people overcoming their flaws, crawling back off the streets, and regaining their self-esteem and self-sufficiency. Every single one of these people have a stirring, heartbreaking story that brought them to the gutters of LA.  For the most part, each one of them finds a way to redefine themselves, reconnecting with meaning and purpose by running with Judge Craig and the support provided by Midnight Mission.

Judge Craig’s running club strives to achieve meaningful life moments to motivate his crew runners. Because of his unique vision, he has taken them to the Accra International Marathon in Ghana, the LA Marathon and the Rome Marathon. This film has all the ingredients for an amazing and meaningful story fleshed with real human beings.

Photo by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

Skid Row Marathon is a substantial, feel good documentary. But beyond these great individual’s stories is an exceptionally well made film with remarkable direction by Mark Hayes. There are really nice camera moves and some stunning crane shots that elevate the visual experience and the story telling in this movie. The cinematography choices make the movie more theatrical and artistically pleasing and while the direction really moves the story along in such a beautiful way.

Skid Row Marathon is wonderfully made movie with a solid transformational message that resonates with anyone that has an ounce of humanity. Judge Craig brings a sense of social responsibility with a meaningful practical application. This is an elevating and substantial film that will inspire and transform anyone who takes the time to experience it. I highly recommend this documentary — without reservation!

Billy Bennight

About Billy Bennight

Billy Bennight is a writer and photographer with expertise and years of experience in these disciplines. His musical youth started as a Punk Rocker and has expanded into exploring many genres of music, with a keen interest in art, fashion, photography, and writing. He shoots celebrity and red-carpet events for ZUMA Press. He is also a member of the Los Angeles Art Association. His images have been published in The Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, Parade, Wall Street Journal, and French Elle, both Vanity Fair and Vanity Fair Italia. He's very engaged in life. You an see more of his work at ZUMA Press at You can follow him on his Facebook page at: and on Instagram and Twitter @billybennight
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2 Responses to Movie Review: ‘Skid Row Marathon’ at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival

  1. Pingback: Skid Row Marathon: Club Members are Running to Recovery

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