I so screwed up the description of the movie. First off, I need to stop calling it a movie, because it’s a documentary. Call it a a film, if you like, but a documentary is a different song and dance from a movie.
Semantics out of the way, Missing People, directed by David Shapiro was not what I was expecting. From the minuscule descriptions I was able to scrape from the film schedule, I thought the movie was going to be more in line with a book I had read not too long ago called the Skeleton Crew. This was not the case.
It’s true that the subject of the documentary is Martina Baton, who suffered the tragic loss of her 14 year-old brother in 1978. She has lived with this all of her life, watching her family drift apart, feeling alienated from her neighbors, and sleeping poorly. And some of the documentary does cover her decision to seek out a private investigator to try and uncover the identity of her brother’s killer.
However, the documentary also focuses on her coping mechanism. As a collector of art, she became devoted to exploring the life and history of a little known New Orleans artist named Roy Ferdinand. And as she gets close to his sisters, finding common ground with two people who grew up in an environment that was only slightly different from her own childhood stomping grounds, we see her really connecting with this man who passed away in 2004.
Roy Ferdinand had his own troubles very early on. But after a life changing encounter in rehab, he devoted his life to drawings that showed the dark, violent, and realistic environment of New Orleans while still managing to capture the beauty and the strength of the people he depicted.
There’s so much impact in the final half of this documentary that I don’t want to get in to too much of it here. I hope this little taste, as well as the website that I’ve linked, gives you incentive to check out the final product yourself.