Please take 5 minutes to see this video about the extraordinary work of Dr. Tom Catena in Sudan's Nuba Mountains.
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This is from Steve W. Schaefer who reviewed A BIRD OF THE AIR in advance of a special screening in Madison, Georgia. We thought he was really smart about the film and he agreed to let us share his commentary.
Steve W. Schaefer has been a public librarian for over thirty-five years and had the pleasure of meeting plenty of Fionas during his professional career. In fact, he is married to a librarian who has more than a passing similarity to the aforementioned. Apart from his career as a librarian, Schaefer has been a film critic for nearly twenty years and had the opportunity to preview "A Bird of the Air." He is glad he did and was more than happy to share his opinion of the film.
A Bird of the AirOn September 20th, at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, the first film of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers will be “A Bird of the Air.”Many of the films in the series are documentaries, usually most compelling. But the first film this year is a straight Romance---sort of a modern version of the classic screwball comedy genre of the 1930s and 1940s. This film will be released this fall, so here is an opportunity to enjoy a pre-screening of this very entertaining, unique, and compelling film.It is about a withdrawn man, stoic and hermitic (because both parents were killed in an auto accident when he was four). His family’s identity could not be verified so he is a man with no name---called Lyman---just Lyman (Jason Hurst)---a name just for convenience. He works as one of those angels of the highway---rescuing folks stranded on the highway at night---or scraping up road kill if necessary---or picking up items scattered about that might be a hazard to drivers and riders. He is invisible.The film is narrated by a Margie, a waitress (Linda Edmond), who often serves the taciturn Lyman. That is a very nice touch…she never plays a major role in the action of the film…something like the narrator in a Greek play---there but not there; important, essential, but not very “showy.”One day, a parrot flies into his trailer. The parrot’s vocabulary is most intriguing and soon our lonely Lyman becomes obsessed with the parrot and wonders where did he come from---what owner taught him those words and phrases? And thus he goes on a quest.For help, as any intelligent person would know, he goes to a library and a librarian. The librarian is a free spirit named Fiona (Rachel Nichols). With her help, he discovers that the parrot had more than one owner---in fact, many, many owners.Through his journey, as you might expect, Lyman finds more than answers to the parrot’s mysteries; he finds himself. And Fiona, hardly the suppressed stereotype of a librarian, finds something as well.I was taken aback by “A Bird of the Air.” I did not expect anything this fresh and original. I see a lot of films, hundreds a year and “A Bird of the Air” is the kind of surprise that makes trudging through cinematic drek worthwhile.The oddball characters that parade through the film, mostly as former owners of the parrot, including Buck Henry, is like going through a Whitman’s Sampler---a sweet experience that includes some delicious nuts.The acting is light but totally convincing, not unlike the style and ease of “Little Miss Sunshine” released back in 2006. This is what happens when talented actors feel comfortable with their characters and are given respect and freedom from their director. My hat goes off to Margaret Whitton, an actress, who is making her feature film debut as a director with this gem of a film. I look forward to more from her as a director.There is some sentimentality in this film; no harm there: it is a feel-good film, but do bring your tissues…the movie’s tug of the tear ducts might be a bit manipulative---but “A Bird of the Air” is so charming, all is forgiven.And there is a dog. And any movie with a charismatic librarian who likes dogs over cats is OK by me. More than OK by me; it gets extra bonus points from me.I do have one complaint. “A Bird of the Air” kind of spoiled me for the following weekend of film viewing. I keep thinking, “This isn’t as good as "A Bird of the Air.’” Now, that was a serendipitous discovery---a bird of a different color if you will---from the usual cinematic fare.Steve W. Schaefer