“Kenny” | Independent Movie Review

J. Zimmerman | Independent Movie Review

In the short documentary Kenny, director Stacey Stone gives us a glimpse into the remarkable life of Kenny Harris, a 72-year-old man who has embraced a life of freedom outside societal norms. Set against the backdrop of picturesque Santa Barbara, California, Kenny’s story unfolds amidst the state’s pervasive homelessness crisis. Through poignant visuals and Kenny’s personal tales, the film humanizes the stark statistics, offering a glimpse into the struggles and enduring hope of those often marginalized.

Eschewing a traditional narrator, Kenny allows its subject to speak for himself, with Stone’s deft use of rotoscope-style animation illuminating Kenny’s words and making his memories come to life. These animated sequences vividly depict his experiences, from familial ties to adventures riding the rails, imbuing the film with a timeless quality. Despite facing challenges like storms and flash floods, Kenny’s resilient spirit shines through, leaving viewers inspired by his unwavering optimism. Kenny stands as a testament to the power of resilience and the importance of understanding the human stories behind the statistics of homelessness.

I only have one complaint about Kenny: It isn’t long enough! I want more! It’s a good sign when your short film leaves viewers begging for a longer runtime. Stone’s eye for cinematography and documentary storytelling bring the yarns Kenny spins to life, and, boy, can he spin a yarn! The idea of “living free” is not new, but it is often overlooked when discussing the presence and circumstances of homeless people in today’s political climate. Kenny doesn’t lack a home in the traditional sense, he just has a different concept of home. He points out that he would still sleep outside even if he had a house.

This fascinating biography includes Kenny’s tales of his childhood riding the rails as a self-described hobo and shows us how he lives his day-to-day life in sunny Santa Barbara. “The train days was the good days,” Kenny says in one of his stories, and he sure makes it sound that way. Among my notes written while I was viewing this film is one simple word: “Wowee!” Kenny is a stunner of a documentary, and anyone interested in the lives of homeless people or documentary filmmaking will want to see as soon as possible. With a runtime of only ten minutes, what excuse do you have not to watch this masterfully crafted short documentary?


5 out of 5 Golden Mics