Whether it's "Chopped," "MasterChef" or "Next Food Network Star," even cooking, something I love to pieces, takes a serious backseat to a far greater connection point, namely the privilege of watching everyday people going after a big dream.
That idea is something I can't help resonating with because it's exactly how I feel with every novel I write.
At the risk of sounding all sappy like a Texas equivalent of Oprah or something (yikes!), there's just something about dreamers that I can't help getting all choked up about. I love seeing—and hearing about—people who not only go after but realize their greatest dreams.
And considering that I'm also a huge movie buff, it probably won't come as a huge surprise that I'm also inspired by the story I'm about to share. A couple of weeks ago, someone who regularly reads my movie reviews at Crosswalk got in touch about a very cool film project he's working on.
Rather than go the typical studio route, Daniel George of RocktheFlix was inspired by the generous efforts of film lovers around the world who helped get Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz made and opted for a grassroots approach as well. So now, with no further adieu, here's a little about his cinematic debut, Sweet Mara, my .02 on the script and how you can get involved.
The Fight for Freedom is Front and Center in Sweet Mara
In all my years of reviewing movies (the good, the bad and otherwise), I’ve normally never commented on a film before the rough cut was available.
But when I heard about a filmmaker who’s recently launched the first-ever campaign to raise $1 million dollars via Kickstarter for his passion project, Sweet Mara, I couldn’t help wondering what all the hub-bub was about. Basically, what was it about this story that not only commanded one California film buff’s attention (for the record, that’s Daniel George, founder of RocktheFlix, a virtual studio for film, music and art) for the long, demanding process of writing a screenplay but would also inspire the masses to lend their support as well?
Well, it didn’t take too long to figure it out…
While many movies with overtly redemptive themes can often feel a little heavy-handed in the moralizing department, the writing of Sweet Mara has a surprisingly deft touch. Filled with compelling characters you can’t help relating to and no shortage of action beats with plenty of clever twists and turns along the way, it’s the stalwart fight for freedom that’s reminiscent of the spirit of last month’s national release of For Greater Glory starring Andy Garcia (Oceans 11, The Godfather III), that’s ultimately front and center.
In Sweet Mara, the story centers around the journey of one brave man named Stefan. Willing to risk his life so he and his family can eventually escape the clutches of an evil dictator in Romania, he’s forced to leave his loved ones, namely his wife Mara and two young sons, behind while he makes his way to America. And as expected, Stefan’s dangerous adventure is fraught with conflict from the get-go, which naturally makes the quest all the more fulfilling.
Adding another layer of intrigue to the proceedings is the bravery of the movie’s namesake. Not only is she routinely interrogated and forced to do all sorts of challenging manual labor after she’s demoted at work, but when a horrible accident injuries her youngest son, she has to swallow her pride and welcome her estranged father back in her life. For the record, this is the same man who made it impossible for her to accomplish her life-long dream of becoming a professional violinist.
Like the best novels, the script for Sweet Mara is a page-turner, and even without the benefit of faces to put the names with or skillful cinematography to provide a sense of place, it’s not difficult picturing how everything plays out because the storytelling is so visual. And while the driving narrative doesn’t scale back on the harrowing realities that would be commonplace in a storyline like this, Sweet Mara is never gratuitous for sheer shock value’s sake.
If anything, simple authenticity is the order of the day, and the payoff is a film where themes of freedom, forgiveness and family are the true shining stars.
For more information on Sweet Mara, including a link to where you can be an integral part in getting this film in production, please visit www.rocktheflix.com.