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  • Michael Angelo, Director/Producer

Person in tree costume waving at a child on a beach

About the Project

A spiritual missionary in the form of a 10-foot tree asks us to explore human nature and the survival of our species, but in the end he must contend with his own survival and past. Lionel Powell grew up in the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence. As a boy he found refuge in the unconditional love of animals and insects. As a man he searched for happiness through religion, family and the arts, eventually becoming estranged from his family living homeless in Venice Beach, California.

Escaping with childlike abandon into the creation of original stilt characters, Lionel created Treeman, a beloved costumed public figure in Venice uniquely able to create common ground with strangers. Volunteering his time with the public and at events for social change, the community looks after Treeman feeding and sometimes housing him.

But when big tech money and gentrification comes to Venice, Lionel is unable to survive. Realizing to help others he must first help himself, he enrolls in a variety of Homeless Bridge programs to obtain services, employment and housing. As he attempts to break a 20-year cycle of homelessness, reunite with family and reconcile his past, our mission is to share his journey so others can benefit from his story.