What a way to spend a Friday. When professor Christman encouraged students to go to Full Frame Film Festival the weekend of April 4-7, I thought about going, but wasn’t sure. I decided to spend my weekend going to the film festival and I’m so glad I did. Leading up to the film festival, Christman would tell the students who were going kind of what to expect for those of us who had not been before.
Throughout watching different documentaries Friday, I was taking it all in and enjoying watching these great documentaries, but one documentary in particular left me feeling a different way than the others did.
The documentary was the last one I was seeing for the day called “3 Days 2 nights.” It was about a family traveling to Colorado in 1974 to go skiing when their plane went down and the only surviving family members from the plane were Mark and Andy Godfrey, who were brothers and at the time were eight and 11 years old at the time.
Their parents, older brother, and older sister died and the brothers were left to survive on their own for three days and two nights fighting for their life. The 11 year old lost both of his legs in order to survive, which changed his life. Throughout the documentary, things are unveiled, such as the brothers having a baby sister who was staying with their grandparents when the plane crashed.
Something unique about this documentary was that John Denver played a special role as he visited the 11 year old in the hospital and allowed him to sing a solo of “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” although they didn’t play it in the documentary at that point. As the documentary went on, it kept flashing back to the memories the brothers had with their family before the plane crash. The brothers were reliving their tragedy that happened 40 years ago, making them connect and share a different type of bond.
While watching the movie, you got to know the family before the crash more, making it seem like the audience knew the family. At the end of this documentary, the 11 year old was heard singing John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulders” while playing flashbacks of the family.
Listening to a little boy sing that specific song with knowing what he was going through all while seeing clips of his family was tough to get through. During this specific part in the movie, it reminded me of the special moments I have with my own family. Especially since my dad and I share a bond of playing John Denver on the guitar together.
As the movie ended and the words “in loving memory of” appeared on the screen, I was at a loss for words. I was feeling every emotion and was taking it all in. To top it off, there was a Q&A afterwards and surprising the audience, the two brothers in the documentary were there. Everyone in the auditorium gave them a standing ovation while wiping away tears as the brothers made their way to the stage.
As an audience member, every single emotion they were feeling with reliving their tragedy and story was felt. It was raw and emotional. There was a unique feeling of being all in the story without noticing what was going on in the auditorium. It pulled you in and kept you in.
As a theatre performer, we’re always told to make the audience get in the “theatre bubble” meaning to make them feel like they’re escaping reality and fully being captured in the performance. I had never had that experience while watching an unscripted documentary until now. And for that, I will never forget that feeling and will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to go to the film fest.