Before he'd even seen a frame of it, state Sen. Bill Ketron took issue with "The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill." A Murfreesboro pastor went even further, describing it as "lies of Satan" in a column in The Rutherford Reader. Harsh words for a film MTSU professor Bob Pondillo says he made to promote a message of love, tolerance and acceptance.
Yet "Miracles" — a short film focused on marriage equality, with the novelty of an almost all-child cast — is gaining recognition beyond Middle Tennessee for its quirky narrative and poignant execution. In the latest of a series of local screenings, the film will show Monday, July 23, at the Z. Alexander Looby Theater after the 7 p.m. reading of hYm, an original musical by University School of Nashville students that advocates for LGBT rights.
Pondillo, whose short "My Name Is Wallace" was shown at the 2007 Cannes film festival, says his fairy tale intentionally removes sex from the scenario, reframing the marriage-equality issue as a matter of freedom to love. Millie, played by young Nashville actor Lucy Turner (who won raves at Street Theatre Company for her performance last year in the title role of The Bad Seed), speaks to the sky and says she's happy, except she has no one to call her true love.
Enter a girl named Ed, played by Paige Glasser. Smitten with Ed, Millie now finds herself ostracized by the church congregation who loved her dearly before she found her own love. But when God, the only character played by an adult — "Wallace" star David H. Lawrence XVII, a familiar face from appearances on TV's Lost and Heroes — comes down to intercede, the disapproving group must reassess their attitudes and beliefs.
"It's a love story, essentially," Pondillo says. "It's a love story, not a sex story, a love story about two people who find themselves and fall in love. And the social pressure put on one of the two people when those in her church congregation find out about this. So that's the point — to tell a socially conscious or responsible story using this sort of artifice, this sort of fairytale mold [and] cast."
As "The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill" satirizes the absurdity of the situation — i.e., banishing a member of the church for wanting the kind of marital contract and commitment churches promote — Pondillo's stylized approach pays off. The narration has a childlike charm reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh: Its powerful voice and intelligent writing gets across the message, yet adds enough playful wit to preserve the fairytale tone. And within the lightly irreverent context, Lawrence's gruff Bobcat Goldthwait-like charisma in the God role comes off as, well, divinely inspired.
Bob Wood, a professor from MTSU's recording industry program, wrote and produced the musical score. With Pondillo, he co-wrote the song "Where is My Someone," which Turner's sweetly open-hearted performance turns into a highlight. Turner has already won acting honors for the film at a festival in Ohio, and as with Pondillo's other short films, "Miracles" seems destined for life on the festival circuit.
When Pondillo first brought the script to his student producer Diana Rice, however, he thought he might have a more difficult time finding actors for the film because of the mature themes. But Turner's mother, Lori Turner, says that the film's themes of tolerance and acceptance trumped any thoughts of not allowing her child to be in the film. Lucy Turner says the film "made sense to her immediately," and her mother agreed that the role "had Lucy written all over it" — especially since her daughter has grown up knowing friends of the family who are openly gay.
As for co-star Glasser's mother, Deanna Glasser, she says the short film has moved her from acceptance to advocacy.
"Because if you can't get married, you feel less-than," Deanna Glasser says. "And I don't want anybody to feel less-than."
If the greatest pleasure of the movie is seeing "DiCaprio be beautiful again", something about…
worth reading on the subject: an interview with Kubrik assistant and friend.
But an outstanding, penetrating comment!
On the contrary: I can't imagine anybody watching ROOM 237 and *not* wanting to see…
This is worth seeing for any fan(atic) of "The Shining", but the film "Making The…