Sometimes an individual is compelled, in the face of daunting odds, to find his identity by making art and becoming an artist.

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Jerry Ross Barrish sees the beauty in—and creates the unexpected out of—discarded materials. The son of hard-working Jewish immigrants with crime-family connections, Barrish worked for 50 years as a bail bondsman, much of it for radical protesters. He stumbled into acclaim as a filmmaker, earning the Museum of Modern Art’s prestigious New Director distinction and winning major European awards along the way. Then one day, inspiration struck as he picked up plastic trash on a beach, leading him to launch a whole new career as a sculptor. Though acclaimed by curators, he long went virtually unnoticed in the commercial-art realm. But at age 75, the unassuming Barrish may finally be on the verge of success, as William Farley’s engaging documentary goes to show. Seeing the playfulness of his pieces, you’ll understand why: with artificial materials, he has managed to capture real life. -Denver Film Society

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