On the opening day of it’s LA run, Michael Rechtshaffen of the Los Angeles Times gave The Barefoot Artist a lovely review.

“Dreaming doesn’t cost anything,” contends Lily Yeh, the passionate subject of “The Barefoot Artist,” a poignant documentary about the transformative power of art.

The strikingly photographed film, co-directed by Glenn Holsten and Yeh’s son, Daniel Traub, traces the life journey taken by a woman who combines art with social activism.

Born in China during the Second World War, Yeh came to the United States in the early 1960s to study fine art. But the exploding Pop-art movement didn’t exactly jibe with her focus on traditional Chinese landscape paintings.

After struggling to fit in, Yeh eventually found her place creating permanent art installations in parts of the world eviscerated by war and poverty.

Her mission has taken her from crumbling, abandoned lots in northern Philadelphia to a genocide survivors’ village in Rwanda to a sprawling garbage dump in Kenya, but a far more personal trek proved the most challenging.

Yeh discovered that her late father had had another family before he married her mother. Ridden with guilt, Yeh traveled to Beijing to make amends on his behalf with her neglected half siblings.

Just as with her life’s work, Yeh’s healing trip back to her ancestral home was all about finding a way to coax vibrance out of the darkness.

On the eve or our Winter Solstice, let us all take that last phrase to heart.

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It is inevitable that we should be launching a crowdsource campaign for Hollywood Beauty Salon finishing funds. It’s the way of the Indie Doc funding model. So, thank you for reading and thinking about it and, perhaps, supporting us. It is going to be a great piece. And we will be finishing soon, all things going to plan.

Take a look at our Hatchfund site for director Glenn Holsten’s pitch along with our great funding trailer.

We’ll be sending out short video reminders as the campaign progresses.

Thanks! for your help!


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Translation in the works.

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Victoria Fleischer has put together a very nice piece for Art Beat on The Barefoot Artist, After screening the film, she conducted interviews with Glenn, Daniel and Lily. Below is an excerpt.

“It awakens other people’s creativity,” said Yeh. “We all have that power potential and that is really what my work and the film is, that we all have the power to change our surroundings, our own lives for a better, more harmonious future.”

The filmmakers point out that Yeh’s community art inspires people in much the same way that her family story has held a mirror up to people’s own family histories.

“I’m hoping that people are inspired like I was by this terrific, creative force … but the fearlessness is what I admire most,” said Holsten. “She went head on into the family situation. We all have family skeletons, but how many of us open the closet and face them. Rather than live with a feeling of guilt or remorse, she decided to do something about it and that’s one thing that I admire greatly.”

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In advance of the New York City run of The Barefoot Artist, we received a very nice write-up by Andy Webster in the New York Times.

“There is much healing in “The Barefoot Artist,” Glenn Holsten and Daniel Traub’s fascinating documentary portrait of the artist Lily Yeh.”

Read the full review here.

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The Barefoot Artist

A visually stunning and deeply emotional film, THE BAREFOOT ARTIST chronicles the long and colorful life of Lily Yeh, a Philadelphia-based artist who has committed herself to creating community-based art projects in some of the world’s most troubled areas. The film explores two sides of Lily’s life that are connected parts of the same journey: her international ventures helping to heal weakened spirits in communities around the world, and a personal journey within to repair her own fractured family.

NoHo 7 on Dec 18th – 24th

Director: Daniel Traub, Glenn Holsten

Editor: Ann Tegnell

Runtime: 83 min

Language: English, Kinyardwanda, Mandarin

Spread the word about this film! This is it’s Academy Award qualifying run!

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The Barefoot Artist is making Academy Award qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles this December.

If you are in the New York City area, we invite you to see our film at the IFC between 12/5 and 12/11.

The Barefoot Artist

Directed by: Glenn Holsten & Daniel Traub

Edited by: Ann Tegnell
Opens Friday, December 5

Filmmakers in person Fri at 7:35!

Lily Yeh is a global artist who is fueled by a belief that art is a human right, and that artists can create a foundation for profound social change. Slight of frame, but large in spirit and vision, the 70-year-old artist was born in China, lives in Philadelphia, and now, as constant traveler, the world is her canvas.

Our film explores two sides of Lily’s life that are connected parts of the same journey: her international ventures helping to heal weakened spirits in communities in North America, Africa, China, and India, and a personal journey within, to repair her own fractured family. To embrace the latter, Lily embarks on a trip to China to trace her father’s life, in hopes of resolving life-long guilt that was passed from father to daughter.

THE BAREFOOT ARTIST traces Lily’s evolution as an artist – from her first exposure to Chinese landscape painting as a young girl in China to the hauntingly beautiful memorial she designed to honor the victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It shows her methodology for community building – using art as the foundation – which she has developed over many years as she has worked in impoverished communities around the world. Finally, it reveals the source of her quest, and the personal costs of a life committed to the public.

NR, 83 Minutes

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In advance of the Kimmel Center screening, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Melissa Dribben has written a great article about our newly slimmed down cut of The Barefoot Artist titled “Why ‘Barefoot Artist’ Lily Yeh does what she does’. Check it out!

We are looking at an already full house, so a very exciting night ahead.

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It is with great pleasure we announce that the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival is hosting a special screening of The Barefoot Artist movie at the Kimmel Center on Thursday, May 15 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets are free (but required) and the Kimmel Center asks that you RSVP in advance. Please follow this link to reserve your seat.

The screening, made possible by the generous support of the Wyncote Foundation, will be followed by a Q&A with Lily Yeh and co-directors Daniel Traub and Glenn Holsten. Editor Ann Tegnell will, naturally, be in attendance.

For those of you who attended the preview screening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, know that the piece has been shortened and refined. We hope you like it even more!

If you aren’t in the Philadelphia area, please check the list of upcoming screenings to see when the film will be in your area. You can now also order a DVD of The Barefoot Artist for public and private use.

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A film by Alice Rothchild and Sharon Mullally, Voices Across the Divide is a powerful documentary and oral history project exploring the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through rarely heard personal stories. Narrated by Alice Rothchild, an American Jew raised on the tragedies of the Holocaust and the dream of a Jewish homeland in Israel, Voices Across the Divide follows her personal journey as she begins to understand the Palestinian narrative, while exploring the Palestinian experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US.

In a recent article from the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Voices Across the Divide is praised and discussed.

“History is told by the people who win the wars,” Rothchild said. “It’s not told by the people who lose. How many years did it take for us to learn about Native Americans and Japanese internment? A long time — the same is true for this history.”

As a Jew, Rothchild knows many Jews don’t want to hear the Palestinian story and to bear witness that the once-victims are victimizing others.

“It means owning our responsibility,” Rothchild said. “Once you own responsibility, you have to deal with some type of restorative justice. You have to say I’m sorry. You have to compensate people, and you cannot do that until you face the original truth of the original history.”

Upcoming screenings of Voices include:

Congregation Tikkun v’Or, May 2, 2014, 7:30 pm, candle lighting and short service followed by film screening, 2550 N Triphammer Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, Q&A with director

Cinemapolis, May 4, 2014, 2:00 pm, 120 E. Green Street, Ithaca, New York 14850, Q&A with Director. Tickets

Arlington International Film Festival, May 30, 2014, 7:00 pm, Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, Arlington, MA, Q&A with director

World Fellowship Center, August 3, 2014, 10:00 am, 368 Drake Hill Road, Albany NH 03818

Palestine Film Festival at the Red River Theater, October 5, 2014, 2:00 pm, 11 S. Main Street, Suite L1-1, Concord, NH 03301, Q&A with director

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