Best Documentary Profile of an East Bay Community: And way to feel good about your own home
Perhaps the East Bay's most diverse community is at the far margin. Filmmaker Tomas McCabe's moving documentary Bums' Paradise takes the viewer right to the social and geographic edge with its intimate portrayal of the "homeless" community that existed on the abandoned Albany landfill for a decade, until a mass eviction to make way for the advent of the Eastshore State Park. By entrusting the camera and much of the narration to one of the residents -- the philosophical, college-educated alcoholic Robert "Rabbit" Beringer -- McCabe provides a rare inside look at what may have been the East Bay's last great hobo jungle. A disparate collection of social misfits -- poets, lovers, addicts, artists, and builders of junk castles -- gather to build a self-reliant alternative community on the outskirts of the mainstream economy in this strange but idyllic setting. The film shows the very human side of faces from which we often look away, and thus makes us feel the acute pain when the police come to drive them out of their homemade piece of paradise by the bay.