Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Denton’s 2013 Thin Line Film Festival features Sundance award-winner Blood Brother
The festival runs through February 18.
DENTON The sixth annual Thin Line Film Fest kicked off in Denton Saturday night to a packed house, there to see Blood Brother, the tender film that took the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary and the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
This true story is full of heart. It centers around Rocky Braat, a disillusioned young American who discovers his calling as a result of a visit to an AIDS orphanage in India. That’s the short of it. The bigger story is how Braat – who claims he didn’t even like kids – walks away from western comforts to become a sort-of Mother Teresa to these abandoned children. He’s not afraid to heal their wounds, hug them tight, and occasionally hang one or two from a tree or a bedpost by their waistbands. They cling to Rocky Anna, as they call him, which translates as “brother.”
Blood Brother Trailer
Braat’s best friend Steve Hoover is the film’s director. The two met at art school in Pittsburgh where they shared an apartment prior to Braat’s transformative trip to India. Hoover was slow to understand his friend’s decision to move to India, but after two years of hearing his remarkable tales via emails and Skype, Hoover decided to visit. He too was transformed.
“There’s nothing about [Braat] that is especially out of the ordinary,” he said in a press release. “I was inspired to tell his story because I know him. I know he isn’t a saint or a miracle worker, but every day he fights his own nature and the forces arrayed against him.”
But in fact, Braat has worked miracles in the lives of those children. The film documents one such life he saved – a little boy named Surya, covered in dreadful, painful sores, whose lips were literally peeling off his face. No one, including Braat, believed Surya would survive. Yet Braat decided Surya’s premature death “mean something” and he would do everything he could to honor the child’s life. The intimate footage where Braat nursed Surya back to health are among the film’s most poignant.
The movie was paid for in advance through donations via Kickstarter and the talent working on the project gave their time gratis. ”We have no personal interest for financial gain in this project,” says Hoover. All funds made from the project will be donated to help support Braat and orphaned Indian children.
Producer Danny Yourd and editor and writer Tyson Vanskiver were in attendance Friday night to answer questions from the audience following the screening.
Wampler’s Ascent Documentary Trailer
Other feature films this weekend included Andy LaViolette’s second music documentary, Snarky Puppy: Ground Up, that traces the ups and downs of the Denton-based band; Dinner at the No Go’s, whose intention was to open up discussions about Middle East perceptions at a variety of stage dinner parties to U.S. State Department-sanctioned travel destinations that have been labeled unsafe; 5 Broken Cameras – a disturbing, first-hand account seen through a journalist’s camera lens of the conflict from Israeli encroachment into a small village in the West Bank; and Wampler’s Ascent: The riveting and inspiring story of Steve Wampler, a man with severe Cerebral Palsy who defies the odds to scale the largest sheer rock face in the world. Wampler will be in attendance for the second screening of the film on Feb. 14 at 3:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre.
More than 70 films will be screened during this year’s Thin Line Film Fest, Texas’ only international documentary festival, which runs daily through February 18 in Denton. For more information, including the complete film schedule and ticket prices, visit thinlinefilmfest.com.
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