I must confess-I am not a huge fan of documentaries especially those made by partisan manipulators like Michael Moore and Al Gore. In fact, I find most documentaries quite boring. One would think that as a mother of six and grandmother of eight, I would have enjoyed “Babies,” but after five minutes I was switching the channels to something more stimulating. Maybe I’m all babied out.
When I received a request by a priest to review a film, “The Human Experience
,” I was less than enthused. As a columnist for the New York Sun, my mail box was always filled with similar requests which I seldom had time to address although those received from Moving Picture Institute in Tribeca proved quite interesting and I eventually wrote columns about their features. “Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism, “written and directed by Phelim McAleer was a favorite and McAleer became Al Gore’s public nemesis for challenging him at forums about global warming.
This being the start of the Christmas season, however, I was intrigued by the priest’s invite when he told me the documentary was made by young residents of St. Francis House, a group home for troubled youth founded by Father Benedict Groeschel. Grassroots Films began here at the home when producer Joe Campo had the residents take up the art of filmmaking. After a few successful short films, the young men decided to live on the streets of New York City to learn about the homeless community. From there the film developed with opportunities to visit areas around the world to discover how our humanity transcends our environment. One of these treks includes a visit to a leper colony in Ghana; another to dying AIDS victims in Africa.
Have you ever watched a film that you can’t get out of your mind? The image of the lepers smiling and telling the men that they are happy because they have come to visit them and they are not afraid to touch them is hard to forget. Then too, I don’t think I will think of the homeless on the streets of New York in the same way I had before viewing this remarkable film.
One would think this would be a depressing experience but instead I found it to be inspiring and an affirmation of what binds all of us around the world-our humanity.
The DVD is on sale at www.grassrootsfilms.com
and is a perfect Christmas gift for those on your list who need to be reminded of that message.