11:00 AM– Saving People’s Lives At last night’s Q&A with Chely Wright following her film “Wish Me Away,” a young woman stood up and thanked Chely for her courage in coming out. She said that she recently came out to her parents and it did not go too well. In fact, her mother was so disgusted that she told her daughter that she should douse herself in gasoline and set herself on fire. The young woman thanked Chely and told her that it was Chely’s story and courage that saved her life during one of the most difficult times she had ever faced.
Later on in the Q&A, Chely was asked why she turned to Rodney Crowell to help produce her latest album. Chely explained that she only knew Crowell by reputation before they started working together, but that she was so distraught prior to coming out that she needed someone outside her circle of friends who could be objective about the songs she was writing. Chely said that at the time, she was in so much emotional pain that she thought she might be dying from a broken heart.
Chely eventually confided in Crowell that she was a lesbian, despite the fact that they did not know each other well. She mentioned how strange it was that the first person in Nashville she came out to was someone she barely knew. Chely credits the love and support Crowell and his wife displayed with saving her life at what was the darkest hour she had ever encountered.
During the Kris Kristofferson award ceremony prior to the showing of “Bloodworth,” Kris said that Nashville held a very special place in his heart. He said that he loved Nashville and credited the city (and by inference the people and the music industry) with saving his life.
Maybe this stuff about saving lives is hype, or maybe it actually does happen more often than we know.
I’m getting ready to head to the theater. See you soon.
2:38 – I just saw a fantastic film called “Most Valuable Players.” It’s the story of several high school theater departments in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, and the Freddy Awards that were created to honor the best of the best of those programs. It was very entertaining and inspirational.
Every year, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of fans show up at high school sporting events all over the country. Meanwhile, theater departments at high schools in every state put on fantastic plays and musicals that go unheralded and struggle to find paying patrons. The message in “Most Valuable Players” is that these plays – team sports in their own right – are just as important to the students, the schools, and the community as high school athletics are.
This was a surprisingly powerful film. It told a great story and the story was told very well.
4:32 – I am so happy that I saw “Most Valuable Players” and “Happy on the Ground” back-to-back. They have a common theme of high school-age musicians. Where “Most Valuable Players” focused primarily on musical theater, “Happy on the Ground” focused on high school musicians who are working their way toward a career in the music industry. Both films do a great job of showing the tremendous music talent on display in our nation’s high schools.
“Happy on the Ground” was filmed during the 2009 Grammy Camp at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The film was both powerful and inspirational. High school musicians (singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, etc.) from across the country came together to learn about the music industry, write songs together, and then perform them at an end-of-camp showcase. In the film, we see young musicians absolutely blossom during an intensive 8-day period. Kids enter the camp as insecure youngsters unsure of their place in the world, and they leave with confidence in their talent and a passion for a career in music.
The camp is the brainchild of The Grammy Foundation and will be expanding to additional camps in New York (2011) and Nashville (2012).
7:43 – “Kinyarwanda” just ended. The bad news is that the film ran quite late, so I missed seeing “Buck,” a film about the real horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman. The good news is that I got to see “Kinyarwanda” and it was a terrific film.
“Kinyarwanda” tells several stories of the genocide in Rwanda and the unimaginable terror that went along with it. Director Alrick Brown did a masterful job of interweaving the various tales. The result is a wonderful, beautiful film that documents atrocities, but shares a message of hope, love, and peace.
I was very much touched by this film. It’s no wonder that it won the World Cinema Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
10:58 – “The Big Uneasy” tells the stories of the levees that failed during Hurricane Katrina and the Army Corps of Engineers efforts to rebuild them in the aftermath of the storm. It also tells the tale of several independent engineers and scientists who have been discredited, dismissed, and in some cases, fired from their jobs because they dared to criticize the Army Corps of Engineers for the mistakes they made in building the levees in the first place, and the negligence perpetrated by the Corps in rebuilding them.
I have to say that I was impressed with the even-handed way that director Harry Shearer handled the subject matter. I was afraid that the film might be an unsubstantiated rant against the government for their failings following Katrina, but Shearer focused his camera narrowly on the Army Corps of Engineers and he backed up his beliefs with an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. The people he spoke to were largely from academia and they were brought into New Orleans following the hurricane specifically because they owed no allegiance to anyone. They were charged with finding out the truth about the levee breaks, but when they did, they were subject to scorn, ridicule and loss of their jobs.
Shearer structured “The Big Uneasy” in a way that made it very easy to understand some of the more complex engineering issues, and he also made the film entertaining, despite the fact that he was dealing with rather dry civil engineer minutia.
Wow, what a day. I saw three excellent documentaries, and a beautiful and touching narrative film today. I missed out on seeing “Buck,” but all in all, it was a very good day at the theater.