The Art of the Shine

The Art of the Shine

  • BY Stacey Tenenbaum | IN Labor
    Premiered April 9, 2018

About the Film

You might pass them on the sidewalk, at the mall or at the airport. They’re the shoe shiners, purveying an old school trade that seems like something out of the Mad Men era, out of step with our fast-paced, disposable consumer culture. But for the "shiners" in Stacey Tenenbaum’s joyous and quirky film The Art of the Shine, shining shoes is a calling and a passion, a way to be one’s own boss and connect with other people from all walks of life. MORE

From New York to Toronto, from Paris and La Paz, The Art of the Shine travels the world for an inside look at a forgotten profession. The documentary captures the joy of many shoe shiners as they work and the artistic freedom the job provides, something extending to several of the film’s subjects.

In Bolivia, where shining is looked down upon, shiners wear masks so classmates and neighbors won’t know what they do for a living. In Sarajevo, we meet Ramiz, the last shoe shiner in the city, who inherited the job from his father who worked during wartime, when getting one’s shoes shined was seen as an act of resistance and a statement of hope. In Tokyo, the dapper Yuya purveys a seriously high-end shine that takes an hour and is accompanied by a flute of champagne. Others, like Vincent in Toronto, find shoe shining an effective form of therapy.

In New York, we meet Kevin and his crew, all recovering alcoholics, who he calls his “sober shoe shine gang.” Together they’ve found not only sobriety but a way of life that’s artistically and socially fulfilling. With all things retro suddenly back in fashion, shining is slowly becoming hip again, attracting younger people who elevate the profession and give it a newfound cachet.

The Filmmaker

Canadian filmmaker Stacey Tenenbaum loves getting her shoes shined and is passionate about social justice. She started her career as a researcher in factual television over 18 years ago. In 2004, she began producing documentary series for channels such as Discovery, History, National Geographic, and others.  In 2008, she co-created and produced the Canadian documentary television series The Beat, which followed a team of beat police officers patrolling the streets of the Downtown Eastside area in Vancouver. She was nominated for an International Emmy in 2012 for In Real Life, a factual series she co-created and produced.

Throughout her career, Tenenbaum often returns to her true passion of finding interesting characters and bringing their stories to life. She worked as a researcher on several documentary films including Dish: Women, Waitressing and the Art of Service, S&M: Short and Male, Karsh Is History, and the 2007 Peabody Award-winning film, Braindamadj'd…Take II. In 2014, she started H2L Productions, a documentary film production company based in Montreal, and began research on her first feature documentary, The Art of the Shine. Stacey is currently in production on Pipe Dreams, a documentary which follows six international organists as they compete in the Canadian International Organ Competition. LESS

Film Credits

Director and Writer
Stacey Tenenbaum

Stacey Tenenbaum
Sergeo Kirby

Howard Goldberg

Van Royko, csc.

Original Music
Tim Rideout

Sound Recording
Emory Murchison
Claudio Duran
Igor Loncaravic

Additional Camera
Josh Weinstein
Marie Girard
Zsolt Sándor

Sound Designer
Daniel Lagace

Sound Mixer
Michel Gauvin

Sound Supervisor
Paul Col

Soundtrack Recording and Mix
Fibii Media

Music Supervisor
Simon Wayland

La Paz Music Coordinator
Alejandro Rivas Cottle

Dialogue Editor
Sonia Neveu

Online Editor
Keith Pattington

Victor Ghizaru

After Effects Editor
Ivan Presser

Assistant Editors
Maia Lotzova
Richard Asmar

Bessie Du
Yerko Ilijic
Milorad “Lola” Batinic
Kaori Ikeda
Royce Brown
David Chung

Production Coordination Tokyo
Smartcuts Agency

Local Production Assistants
Javier Calahumana
Jordan Calahumana Silvestre
Slobodan Soja

David Espejo Tarki
Shuji Imai
Yoshiharu Saito

Li Li
Pearl Chan
Luz Maria Martinez
Guinness Rider
Miho Enomoto
Anja Mihic
Dejan Zahirovic
Velibor Božović
Vukašin Drašković-Poštić

Lulu Resnick Brenner

Nicola Minotti

Vanessa Loubineau

Poster and Film Titles
Mohamed Thiam
Roxanne Ducharme

Poster Photography
Christopher Griffith

Additional Music by
Audio Network

Bruce Trembley
Don Ward
Hom Nguyen
Jes Middendorf
Kealani Lada
Kevin Tuohy
Miguel Angel Sumi, ‘Balloo’
Nicholas Mahoney
Ramiz Hasani
Yuya Hasegawa
Vincent Zacharko

Archival Material Courtesy of
Erol Hafizbegovic
Hom Nguyen
Kevin Tuohey
Nađa Mehmedbašić
Pond 5
Stacey Tenenbaum
Vincent Zacharko
Yuya Hasegawa

Music Credits

Mallku Rebelde
Pablo Alfonso Aramayo “Marraketa”

La Catedral
Agustin Barrios, Hector Osaky
Recording courtesy of Alejandro Rivas Cottle

Capricho Arabe
Francisco Terragó, Hector Osaky
Recording courtesy of Alejandro Rivas Cottle

Shine On Me
B.B. McKinney
Recording courtesy of
The Barbershop Harmony Society

Products and Services Furnished by
C.A. Zoes Mfg Co.

Special Thanks
Agence Cantarane
Benoît Giorsetti
Christopher Leggett
Dave Tanner
Eliza Parkinson
Geoff Klein
Grand Central Terminal
Hilton Hotels
James Cooper
Jon Deitcher
Maison Corthay
Marc Guyot
Matt Soar
MCM Architecture
Monsieur London
Nathalie Mayotte
Nikola Markovic
Nite Owl Barber Shop
Oliver Sweeney
Sacha Jerabek
Sead Bajric
Thanh Pham

For documentary Channel
Senior Director
Bruce Cowley

Production Executive
Jordana Ross


Head of Original Production
Nathalie D’Souza

Programming Director
Pierre Gang

Investment Funding Provided by
Rogers Group of Funds, through the Rogers Cable Network Fund

Funding Provided by
Quebec Film and Television Tax Credit, SODEC
The Government of Canada Tax Credit
Canada Media Fund

The Art of the Shine is a presentation of H2L PRODUCTIONS, produced in association with
documentary Channel and TV5 QUEBEC-CANADA.

This program was produced by H2L Productions Inc. and H2L Shiners Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2017 H2L Productions Inc. and H2L Shiners Inc. All rights reserved.

Have you ever had your shoes shined by a "shiner"? If so what was the experience like? If not, why not? Did this documentary make you think differently about this age-old profession, and what other age-old professions are underappreciated?
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Have you ever had your shoes shined by a "shiner"? If so what was the experience like? If not, why not? Did this documentary make you think differently about this age-old profession, and what other age-old professions are underappreciated?