Dear independent film lover and American patriot,
The reason I am writing to you has to do with a film project of a colleague of mine that has taken him nearly seven years to complete. It is a movie that was based on a story I wrote and which he completed in 2002 and is now available on DVD. It's called "Clover's Movie" and it's an intelligent work, feature-length, all shot on video, and depicting a story about a young man named Jamey McGinnis (18 years of age) who is engaged in a simple task: to find his Dad who he has never met. The young man is an aspiring filmmaker who takes his video camcorder and shoots a travelogue of footage of everything that moves before him. He is essentially a student of life and wants to learn about everything that he encounters on his quest, but especially (in light of the violence he has witnessed on television in his lifetime) the answer to the question "Why do people Kill?" What he discovers through the lens on his filmmaking trip will compel him to take that raw footage and turn it into a movie to send to the authorities.
In the movie, his Dad (Jonathan "Jack" McGinnis) is a Vietnam veteran turned government protester who -- learning the inside truth from his Vietnam experience -- has devoted his post-Vietnam existence to challenging the actions and motives of his government (click here to read his Red White & Blue Freedom Manifesto). This devotion has led the elder McGinnis, however, to acts of protest and civil disobedience mislabeled by the authorities as domestic terrorism. Despite the Dad's dark past (he's wanted by the FBI), the kid has been enamored of his dear old Dad while growing up, as if his Dad were a superhero, mythologized in his absence. But when the son eventually meets up with his father on a ranch in southern Nevada, reality sets in and the boy's idea of his father is forever altered. On this ranch, the son captures -- serendipitously through a dirty window, with camera in hand -- a discussion the Dad is having in a shed with another man involved in a plot to "change America." There's also a hostage in the shed, bound and gagged. The discussion culminates with the murder of the hostage all caught on tape. Naturally, from that moment on, the boy's view of life changes and as he tries to bond with the father he has truly met for the first time, he learns about life from a completely new perspective: that of his father's fundamental Constitutional values and suspicion of the U.S. Government.
This movie was made simply as a story about what America stands for and how one young man learns about what it means to be an "American" and how all of us are products of our upbringing and manifestations of our own ideas. The movie presents various points of view by way of the many characters in the story, but through one central perspective which is this young man's. He represents all of us who want to learn about this world in which we are born, a world which we can change and nurture and develop into something wonderful over time, if we allow ourselves to help others. It's a positive and inspiring story, even though the movie presents aspects of life that are cruel, strange, offbeat, and downright ugly. The events in the movie are the backdrop, while the kid's camera point of view and curt commentary (he narrates the story) represent the innocence and fresh perspective of each new generation.
The story -- as it turns out -- has parallels to the events of September 11, 2001, and thereby becomes an allegory for what we are going through today -- the fear and violence and hatred that stem from the war of ideas and the potential challenges to peace and humanitarian resolutions to conflict. A core lesson that this young filmmaker learns is that fear can turn to hate and when that happens -- when that switch in one's head and heart occurs because fear stems from vulnerability while hatred becomes power -- there is a point of no return. The trick is to catch the fear and comfort it before justification for hatred takes control and turns into anger and violence.
I wanted to share this project with you because we (the filmmaker and I) want to learn more about this country and where it's at today. I am over 50 years old and still have a lot to learn. I am very patriotic but that shouldn't be mistaken for a goose-step. I agree with those who say that being American requires the ability to question authority and to take steps that serve the common good. America's foreign policy of the past few decades has been flawed and I want to be part of changing how America acts and how she is perceived. The movie is about power to the people and that is my battle cry in helping to get it out to the public. I want to spread the word because this work of art has a message of peace and the more who know about it -- in my opinion -- the better.
an Irish writer whose story "Patriot Day" was the basis for Clover's Movie