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The Independent Critic

Kenny Harris
Stacey Stone
10 Mins.
Pace Films Website

 Movie Review: Kenny 
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72-year-old Kenny Harris is at the heart of Stacey Stone and Diane Mellen's compassionate and informed 10-minute short doc Kenny, a film that weaves together live action footage with rotoscope to tell the compelling story of this engaging figure whose entire life seems to have been lived free from the burden of four walls and a confining indoor existence. 

We learn of Kenny's long history of riding the rails, a sort of romanticized form of being unhoused that seems to eventually become too hard on the elderly gent with a clear voice and a strong sense of how he wants to live. He's had opportunities for housing, he most profoundly notes a period when lived in Hawaii making $300 a day, but Kenny prefers living free and proudly seems willing to live with the social judgment, occasional harassment, and name-calling that he's had to endure along the way to is free life. 

Kenny is more about Kenny himself than it is any sort of social statement about homelessness, though I can't help but think it reminds us that cookie-cutter solutions can't solve everything and housing itself isn't the solution for those who prefer to live their lives free. 

Instead, it may be as simple as empowering a dignified life for those who choose this life and learning how to embrace their existence in our communities. 

Kenny's lens is a lens of compassion, though that's not particularly new for all the always compassionate and insightful Stone and Mellen. They are longtime collaborators through Pace Films who always seem to have a gift for celebrating the richness inhumanity. Original music from Madilynn May and Jerry Deaton companions the film beautifully with a tapestry of warmth and understanding. 

While Kenny is a compassionate film, it's never a maudlin or judgmental one. Scenes of a torrential storm arrive in Kenny's now home-base of Santa Barbara are played out matter-of-factly, only one individual's inquiry as to whether or not he needed food serving as a reminder of just how dangerous the situation could be. These are the moments when we feel most deeply for Kenny himself, though it's noteworthy that his own demeanor barely changes and it's clear he's endured similar situations many times before. 

Kenny is both well-informed and immensely engaging with a central figure who both earns our respect and our compassion while leaning into his absolute dignity. At a mere 10 minutes in length, Kenny's time with us is brief and leaves us wanting more time with this simple yet captivating storyteller. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic