Hollywood Beauty Salon presents portraits of full, complex human beings who are connected by this one space – a tiny beauty salon that is part of a mental health recovery community. They support each other as they work on their many challenges.
Many of the sad, often heartbreaking, stories of struggle and trauma are told in beautiful and compelling ways. The film fuses documentary, drama, animation and music – lively and engaging ways to enter these people’s lives. It was very important to me as a maker that diagnoses do not become the way that a particular person is identified in the film. I didn’t want viewers to walk away talking about “the person with bipolar disorder” or “that person with schizophrenia.” Rather it was important for me to stress the things that we all have in common. My happiest moment is at a Q&A after a screening when people refer to Butterfly (Sanetta) as the “woman who wanted to fly,” or Ed Kozempal as “the flute player,” or Darlene as the “woman who wrote the play for the film.” I love that they are all considered people first, and that their illness is secondary in their definition of themselves. As Anthony says in the film, “I am not my diagnosis.”