Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story Image

In his brief three decades on this earth, Mark Baumer was determined not to follow life’s traditional path and leave the world a better place. Filmmaker Julie Sokolow documents one of his notable achievements in her sharp, focused documentary Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story.

Tragically, Baumer’s trek to bring attention to the damages of fossil fuels was cut short by an SUV striking and killing him on the 100th day of his journey. Sokolow was certainly not without a treasure trove of material to help flesh out the journey’s narrative. Baumer was a prolific artist, having self-published over 50 books. He also composed poetry and wrote blogs.

“…Baumer’s trek to bring attention to the damages of fossil fuels…”

As an activist, he was strong-willed and determined; as an on-camera personality, Baumer’s an acquired taste. Other outlets have used Andy Kaufman as a comparison, but I’m not sure that is apt. Sure, Baumer’s childlike approach to his narrative certainly calls to mind Kaufman’s Taxi character Latka Gravas, but when attempting to travel across the U.S. on highways barefoot and alone, it seems more like naivete.

Like fellow environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, who decided to call attention to the protection of grizzly bears by living with them, Baumer may not have channeled his passion through the most well-plotted paths. Baumer originally predicted it’d take him three months to complete the journey and admitted to Vice that he “did not give himself a huge amount of time to train and amp up mileage.”

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story (2020)

Directed and Written: Julie Sokolow

Starring: Mark Baumer, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story Image

"…determined not to follow life's traditional path and leave the world a better place."

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