Reaching for the stars

You may not have seen or heard Princess Shaw, but after seeing Ido Haar’s documentary Presenting Princess Shaw, you’ll never forget her.

With her resilient attitude and irresistible smile (accentuated by braces), “Da Princess” (AKA Samantha Montgomery) has stars in her eyes, a dream in her heart, and a set of pipes that just won’t quit.

The film unobtrusively follows Princess through her daily life, working at an assisted-living facility in New Orleans (where the residents are an enthusiastic audience), struggling to make ends meet, and trying to find the time to pursue her dream. When not posting song videos on Youtube, she often posts intimate confessionals that express her misgivings and insecurities.

Unbeknownst to Princess, these videos have been viewed – and sampled by – Ophir Kutiel (“Kutiman”), the Israel-based musician who fashions entire visual symphonies from Youtube performances. He’s had his eyes – and his ears – trained on Princess for some time, and they’re on a collision course, but one of mutual respect and creativity.

Presenting Princess Shaw is rather leisurely-paced at first, but Harr is methodically winding up for a devastating revelation, which occurs when Princess visits female relatives whom she hasn’t seen in years and all share their stories of sexual abuse, which has tainted their lives. One cannot help but be moved by Princess’ honesty. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and the knowledge of what she’s dealt with – and continues to deal with on a daily basis – is a further inspiration that goes far beyond her show-biz aspirations.

In comparison, Kutiman is almost a background figure in the proceedings, albeit a benevolent one. Even after Princess’ performance at Habima, the National Theatre of Israel, she’s still sorting her life out. Stardom doesn’t happen instantaneously. It takes time, work and patience, not unlike the emotional healing that Princess strives for every day.

Presenting Princess Shaw opens Friday !