Adversity builds character. It’s the trials in our lives that shapes us into the people we are today, but why for some are the lesson so hard to learn. Maggie Smith’s Tucson Salvage is a short film, that feels more like a meditative coffee book about the lives of five humans beaten and battered by life in Tucson, Arizona. These imperfect people paint an interesting, if not a beautiful, portrait of humanity.
After an opening poetic narration about a broken man returning to Tucson—a place he never wanted to return—we meet Ray. Ray is an ex-con, graffiti artist who requires the use of prosthetic legs to get around. He was shot for being in the wrong neighborhood. As a result, Ray has one dead kidney and must regularly go to dialysis. He smokes, which disqualifies him for a transplant.
Pepper is a recovering junkie living with her boyfriend, John. Pepper no longer lives on the streets and has cleaned herself up. It’s been over a decade since she lost her five children to her drug habit.
“…an opening poetic narration about a broken man returning to Tucson—a place he never wanted to return…”
Del is an ex-con, who became violently self-destructive after the passing of his father. He could easily have been a candidate as a mass-shooter Lost in life, Del got caught up in the wrong crowd and found himself in prison, where he found freedom.
Andy is an MMA Fighter today but was then an ex-con and drug addict. He experienced abuse from his parents and a babysitter. He held in all his pain from youth, which lead to his destructive behavior and the accidental death of his brother.
Dawn lives by the code of the street of “do unto others…” She collects junk that no one wants and turns them into treasures that everyone desires. She is in tune with the streets and the universe.
Tucson Salvage is more than just a collection of talking-head interviews. Smith’s subjects talk about their dark past, their struggles in life, and their philosophy of living today. Each testimonial is visually overlayed with a quick cut montage of her subjects at home and on the street, in the gym, or in the workshop. It’s inspiring, to say the least, seeing how far an individual can come with the odds stacked against them. Each individual’s story in Tucson Salvage is different in tone and texture and put together into a fascinating tapestry that is distinctly Tucson.
"…different in tone and texture and put together into a fascinating tapestry"