Friday, August 1, 2008
It takes a city -- Iowa City
I don't generally take on feel-good stories. As an arts and culture reporter, I like places where people collide, art that makes something happen, books that transform -- and not in the way an Oprah's book pic transforms. I like discovering who people are and why do they do what they do. I favor obsessives. I'll take funny and sad over uplifting any day of the week.
Well, have I got a feel-good story for you. For this month's Iowa Source I wrote a piece about the new documentary on Bill Sackter, the real-life character whom Mickey Rooney played in the 1982 made-for-TV movie Bill (he won a Golden Globe for the performance).
A Friend Indeed: The Bill Sackter story could easily be written off as a advocacy piece for the mentally disabled. It tells the story of a man who spent over four decades in a Minnesota mental institution before a young couple decided to adopt him and integrate him into a college town -- Iowa City, IA. This young husband was Barry Morrow, a young sociology student who eventually went on to win an Academy Award for the screenplay for Rain Man (1988).
But the film is very much a portrait of Iowa City, a place I have found to be uncommonly accepting of fuzzy-bearded, frazzled-looking homeless men who sit on the Pedestrian Mall and talk to students all day long. I don't think I've ever before felt the pride of place I had after watching this film's premiere.
I hope the film finds national distribution. It's playing at the Tipton Hardacre Film Festival this weekend, where it just took the prize for best documentary.