Sporting a street-smart bravado and phosphorescent red hair topped with a black fedora, little could hide Samantha Montgomery’s (a.k.a. Princess Shaw) raw edgy talent and endearing awkward vulnerability. The special guest and singer songwriter received a standing ovation following Ido Haar’s documentary, Presenting Princess Shaw at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center. This was the closing event of the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, and was presented in conjunction with the Israel Today Series.
Haar’s documentary captures the story of Montgomery as she launches her original songs on YouTube, clinging to the faith that perhaps someone is listening. Miles away on a kibbutz in Israel, a renowned multimedia Israeli artist, named Kutiman, hears her voice and uses it to create one of his “voice symphonies,” a video montage made from snippets of music that he scavenges off the internet. His creation goes viral and director Haar captures this entire “Cinderella” story in real time.
The evening began with a reception with New Orleans style food created by the TCC Culinary Institute students. During a question and answer period after the film, Montgomery shared insights on how she decided to take the leap of faith and introduce her voice on the Internet.
“Honey, you can have millions of dollars or you are no good cuz you [sic] homeless, it doesn’t matter, someone will always judge you. You can’t fill up your heart with money, Boo, I always was a singer, I recorded myself in the shower and I say, WOW, is that me?”
This unlikely star has been living hand to mouth surrounded by intercity poverty, reeling from the scars of childhood sexual abuse, without formal education and without a stable community, and yet her gritty, creative spirit, and open heart are in full throttle. Kutiman and Haar have brought Montgomery to Israel six times since the release of this film, and their collaboration has helped launch her career.
When asked how she felt about her experiences in Israel she said, “Boo, I LOVE Israel—it is a real community. Kutiman showed me that I can have role models in my life. It is hard to trust someone, but I let myself trust him completely. It is surreal, Honey, I never thought I could be in this place…I am blessed.” Montgomery then strolled into the audience with a microphone, sharing the voice that will soon be released on her first album.
Presenting Princess Shaw was the fifth event of the Israel Today series, which offers cultural and educational programs aimed at spotlighting the diversity of talent and people that comprise Israeli life. Presented by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater with the Simon Family JCC and community partners as part of the 24th Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film presented by Alma* and Howard Laderberg.
*of blessed memory
For more information about the Israel Today series, visit: jewishva.org/IsraelToday.
- Sherri Wisoff