I'm hesitant to tell you anything about Beautiful Losers because I'd prefer that you just go see it. However, I feel it's my duty to encourage you to flake on your Friday night plans so you can see this film as soon as possible. I am not a film buff nor an expert in filmmaking. I am an artist and a writer who spends lots of time documenting the work of other artists, and that's why I was aching to see Beautiful Losers long before its local premiere. It is a non-fictional story about eleven streetwise kids who made art because it made them happy and who eventually found success doing what they loved to do.
If you grew up feeling the opposite of mainstream -- like an outsider/freak/weirdo -- this film is for you. If you've ever felt judgmental, or in the dark about skate culture and street art, this film is for you, too. And, if you've ever wanted some insight into how artists think and what it means to be a visual thinker, this film will help you to understand by shining a light on some often-misunderstood creative minds.
Beautiful Losers was directed by Aaron Rose, a guy who opened an art gallery in New York almost by accident and took his friends seriously as artists regardless of how others might have viewed them. Using footage acquired over several years, Rose tells the story of these artists through interviews, music and, most importantly, images of their artwork. He opens a door that is rarely cracked and lets you in on a story about young artists with something major and subversive to say to the world -- pioneers who didn't care about spreading their message to gallery patrons and art critics but instead directed their attention at like-minded people who shared a similar struggle of being young and disenchanted with the world. Some were skaters and the creative risks they took on their boards fed the risks they took with their art. Their canvases were trains and billboards, streets and mailboxes -- platforms that allowed them to communicate widely to an everyday audience.
There are local connections in the film because many of the artists lived in San Francisco, and a major traveling exhibition of their work (co-curated by Rose and also titled Beautiful Losers) made one of its first stops at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2004. So, if nothing else, watch this film to learn more about artists from your community.
Beautiful Losers is a carefully crafted film about grown-up artists looking back on an important time in their careers, which flew by quickly but made them who they are today. While they are not the only eleven artists who contributed to the do-it-yourself movement, they are the ones who helped the movement achieve widespread success. It's a film that I will watch again to remind myself to keep communicating through visual means and to keep trying to make connections and inspire moments of joy in the lives of friends and strangers. The film not only spoke to my heart, it gave me a hug of encouragement and told me to keep doing my thing, even when it feels like it might not be worth it.
Beautiful Losers runs from Friday, September 5, 2008 through Thursday, September 11, 2008 at the Lumiere Theatre. For tickets and information, visit landmarktheatres.com.