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Seeds of Resiliency: Film Review

Seeds of Resiliency Trailer Screengrab - H 2012

The Bottom Line

This moving if frustratingly shallow documentary fails to fully deliver its inspirational message. 

Director

Susan Polis Schutz

Susan Polis Schutz's documentary follows twelve subjects who have persevered despite having suffered severe adversity.

It’s tempting to simply do the math to illustrate the shallowness of Seeds of Resiliency, Susan Polis Schutz’s earnest, well-meaning documentary about maintaining a positive attitude in the face of severe adversity. The film profiles twelve figures ranging from Holocaust survivors to the founder of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in the course of its brief hour-long running time, providing a grand total of roughly five minutes to each of its inspirational stories. It’s apparently aimed for people with attention spans too short for Reader’s Digest.

Still, there’s no denying the emotional impact of these tales presented without narration. Particularly wrenching is that of Rufus Hannah, a former alcoholic, homeless man who was disabled as a result of drunkenly agreeing to appear in the notorious Bumfights videos and who now—thanks to the beneficence of a kindly businessman—is in recovery and gainfully employed.

Equally moving are the portraits of a Ugandan refugee who’s devoted his life to assisting others fleeing African countries; a Korean professor who continues to teach despite having suffered an injury rendering him a quadriplegic; and a young man afflicted with spina bifida who holds the world’s record for performing flips in his wheelchair (demonstrating that there are apparently world records for just about everything).

Even the more familiar harrowing tales are presented with the sort of details that makes one’s hair stand up, such an elderly female Holocaust survivor’s account of being forced to dance for that most monstrous of figures, Josef Mengele.

The interviews are inspirational but also frustratingly brief and lacking in depth. Whatever life lessons are imparted can be summed up by the title of Monty Python’s song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

(IronZeal Films)
Director/producer: Susan Polis Schutz
Directors of photography: Aron Brown, Larry Warner, Manny Miranda, Rob Amato, Scott Kilian, Steve Skinner
Editor: Bret Granato
Not rated, 60 min.