Sunday , February 25 2024
Three short films that each shed light on what it means to be an individual and how we experience the world.

Anthem Film Festival: Three Short Film Jewels About Dreams, Trauma, and Mules

Three short films at the Anthem Film Festival, part of FreedomFest, billed as the world’s largest gathering of free minds, July 13-16, in Las Vegas, deserve special mention. All less than fifteen minutes long, they each shed light on what it means to be an individual and how we experience the world.

Who Am I?

Anthem Film FestivalI’ve Just Had a Dream, by director Javier Navarro, is a seven-minute film, in Spanish with subtitles. We first see a little girl, Irene, who awakes from a nightmare. In her dream, her world has been turned upside down.

We then see the same dream, this time happening to another eight-year-old girl, Amina. Her reaction to the dream is very different. Is reality set? Or does our interpretation of it make all the difference?

I’ve Just Had a Dream won the Anthem Excellence in Filmmaking award. For information about seeing the film, contact director Javier Navarro at [email protected].

Where Did I Go?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has been a part of warfare from ancient times. Victims often loose talents, a sense of self, the ability to relate to other people, even their loved ones. Only recently has there been hope for treatment.

Intrepid Spirits, a film by director Jeanine Butler, tells an inspiring story of the partnership between philanthropist Arnold Fisher and military and civilian doctors which has resulted in the establishment of new treatment centers, implementing cutting-edge methodologies.

Anthem Film FestivalIn only thirteen minutes, Butler takes us into the world of an injured soldier who admits that without the treatment he might have killed someone else or himself. We see his progress, as we learn about the Intrepid Spirits Centers. Built by Arnold Fisher, they, according to the film, produce results in half the time, at half the cost, with twice the quality. That sounds like infomercial hype, but, Fisher makes nothing from the project. When people make donations to the centers, every penny goes to the centers, with Fisher covering all the overhead.

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, is credited with saying “No head injury is so trivial that it can be ignored, and none so serious that the life must be despaired of.”

Many of the 320,000 US service members suffering TBI since 2000, have been in despair. Now with Intrepid Spirits Centers there is hope. For more information on the program or to make a donation check its website.

Why Am I Here?

For thirty years, John Sears (a.k.a. Mule) has been traveling up and down the west coast, usually with a team of three mules. For the last twelve years, he has lived outside every single day.

Mule – Living on the Outside is an eleven-minute work-in-progress about Sears’ life by director John McDonald.

Upon hearing about this film, I thought, “Crazy guy that I’m probably supporting with my tax dollars.” Not the case.

Anthem Film Festival
John Sears outside Los Angeles County federal courts with one of his mules.

During the question and answer session after the film I asked director McDonald about my concerns. He explained that Sears has supported himself with an inheritance, the sale of his property, and odd jobs.

During the eleven minutes of the film, we see Sears encountering police, who often don’t know what to do with him. (Apparently, no one ever told them that “leave harmless old men alone” was an option.) We also see people who are delighted and charmed by his presence. We see children who love the mules. We see that his lifestyle harms no one.

To the question, “Why am I here?”, John Sears’ answer seem to be to serve as an example of the right to choose your own path, roam freely across the land, and sleep under the stars.

A preview of Mule – Living on the Outside is linked below. To view the entire film, go to this link and enter the password “follow.” For more information about the film, check the website. Filmmaker McDonald has also set up a website to document Sears life and current struggles.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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