BERLIN FASHION FILM FESTIVAL (BEST DOCUMENTARY / PORTRAIT)

The Flower Man - Alegria Films - The Swagabonds JPG
The Flower Man - Alegria Films - The Swagabonds YOUTUBE 2m:29s

The Flower Man - The Swagabonds
Alegria Films

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The Flower Man - The Swagabonds - Alegria Films

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Title of Piece: The Flower Man
Brand: The Swagabonds
Production Company: Alegria Films
Client: The Swagabonds
Director: Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
Emerging: 0
Producer(s): Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
Art Director: Audrey D'Erneville
Creative Director: Gigi Freyeisen
Editor: Antonio Gómez-Pan at Final Cut
Director of Photography: Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
Music/Sound Design: T. Terressa Tate at Machine
Additional Credits: Color Grade by Quinn Alvarez at Apache
Additional Credits: Associate Production Company: Afterhrs
Additional Credits: Associate Producer: Theo Brooks
Additional Credits: Production Assistant: Marina Jamieson
Additional Credits: Film provided by Kodak
Additional Credits: Film Lab: Pro8mm Burbank
Short Synopsis: The Flower Man
A portrait of a dapper homeless artist living in LA’s notorious Skid Row

Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles has the ignominious title of being the homeless capital of America. But what most people do not realize is that this makeshift town, which covers the equivalent of fifty city blocks, has bred some amazing artists. The Flower Man, directed by award-winning filmmaker Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, looks beyond the headlines to create a heartfelt portrait of a remarkable man who has called Skid Row home for over twenty years.

Donald Reese is a homeless artist who is committed to spreading joy by selling handmade roses on the streets of Los Angeles. Unafraid of standing out, he struts through Skid Row in a sharp, lime green suit that has only added to his status as a local legend. With a bouquet of ribbon flowers in one hand, he extends the other to the audience in an invitation to walk the city in his shoes.

Reese’s singular sense of fashion and his belief in the therapeutic effect of his flowers dispel any stigma that might arise from his living on the streets. Although the realities of homelessness are brutal, devastating, and tragically fueled by rising drug dependency and complex mental health conditions, Mendoza masterfully mixes 16mm, VHS, and Red footage to capture the beauty hidden in the chaos of Skid Row.

Reese is the first artist to work with The Swagabonds—a project that started as a photo series and evolved into a collaborative fashion brand designed with artists from Skid Row. The goal is to help them rise above their circumstances through their craft and to showcase their stories. Don’t miss out on supporting Reese by shopping his capsule collection, A rose from the concrete.

Text by Shelley Jones
Nowness editor