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Film ‘The Human Experience’ upholds the dignity, value of life
By John Gleason
A documentary dealing with the adventure of two brothers and their search for answers to the meaning and purpose of life will have its regional premier in Denver April 9.
The film, “The Human Experience,” is the latest offering from Grassroots Films, an independent film company created in 2001 for the purposes of making films with high moral character and dealing with truth on every level. Grassroots Films produced the well-received 2006 “Fishers of Men” documentary aimed at young men considering priesthood.
A REVIEW BY ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT:
“From the homeless of New York, to a home for abandoned children in Peru, to a leper colony in Ghana, The Human Experience is an extraordinary, deeply moving and superbly well made portrait of the human spirit; a documentary of the power of love to transform suffering into meaning and joy. Grassroots Films has produced an astonishing witness to the beauty of the human person under the most trying conditions. For anyone committed to the cause of human dignity, or simply hungry to see again the beauty in life, it shouldn’t be missed. I recommend it wholeheartedly.”
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
Joe Campo is one of the founders of Grassroots and the producer of “The Human Experience.” He told the Denver Catholic Register that this movie is exactly that—the search for the human experience.
“It’s the story of two brothers and their journey,” Campo said. “They begin in New York City where they live with the homeless for a month. They travel to Peru to visit with homeless children and to Africa where they spend time with AIDS victims and members of a leper colony. What they discover has a profound impact on them.”
The brothers, according to Campo, are looking for the answer to the questions we all ask ourselves: Who am I? What is the reason for living? And have we forgotten what it means to be human? Through their travels, the pair is awakened to the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit.
“Our guys lived in cardboard boxes in New York in February, getting to know a community of homeless people,” Campo said. “You’d think that anyone who lives on the street in extreme cold weather would be overcome with despair. But that’s not what we found at all.”
The varied backgrounds of street people are too numerous to count. Some are mentally ill, others aren’t, but all have stories to tell about how they came to be on the street and why they stay, according to Campo.
“Those who view this movie will be humbled by the dignity of all the homeless people,” he said.
Campo said that filmmaking was something he always wanted to try. A photographer by trade, he also runs a shelter for young men in Brooklyn, N.Y., called St. Francis House. Many of the residents of St. Francis House work on and appear in the film, including Jeffrey and Clifford Azize, real-life brothers who portray the brothers in the film. Those who run the film company are eager to tell stories that might not otherwise get told.
“Grassroots Films has a way of getting into the culture, if you will,” Campo said. “Some have said counter culture. I’m not sure that’s true, I prefer to think that we are the culture.”
From its beginnings, Grassroots Films has grown to become well respected in the film industry. A visitor to their Web site is greeted with a wall of accolades from such prestigious places as the Mexico International Film Festival, Maui Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival. “The Human Experience” was named best documentary at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. Campo brushes aside the notion of the awards, choosing to focus on what audiences think of the film.
“Yes, we’ve had some rewards but we judge our success by the number of people who come to see ‘The Human Experience’ and their reaction to it,” he said. “We estimate that, worldwide, between 70,000 and 80,000 people have seen it. It’s currently in release in German, Polish, Spanish and English, and when people come back to see it a second time, they bring a friend. I think that says a lot.”
Those responsible for the film are hoping that Catholics will show their support for its pro-life message with a strong turnout for the Denver premier, which will be followed by a question and answer period with filmmakers. The April 9 Q&A in Denver will likely feature Campo and director Charles Kinnane.
“The Human Experience” will open April 9 at the Northfield 18 Cinema, 8300 E. Northfield Blvd., Denver, on the site of the old Stapleton Airport. A preview of the film can be viewed online at www.grassrootsfilms.com.
Film: “The Human Experience” followed by a question and answer session with the producer and director
When: April 9
Where: Northfield 18 Theaters, 8300 E. Northfield Blvd., Denver (on the site of the old Stapleton Airport)
Information: Call theater for times and ticket cost, 303-595-4275