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Marshall Fine

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Why can't this moving doc find a home?

Posted: 07/01/11 10:13 AM ET

It's a sad fact of life that not every worthy film you see at a film festival finds a distributor. Indeed, only a small percentage do.

As John Sayles once told me, once upon a time if your film had sprockets, someone would buy it and distribute it. These days, there's no such guarantee. The odds are not just stacked against you - they're overwhelmingly against you.

Consider the thousands of films that are submitted each year to Sundance and other festivals. Consider the few hundred that actually are accepted. Then think of the few dozen of those that eventually get released - sometimes as much as a year or two later.

Still, it's disheartening when I see a documentary as moving and well-made as Love Hate Love and hear that it's not even getting nibbles.

I moderated a panel discussion with the filmmakers after an April screening of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival, a talkback that included all the film's subjects, as well as its executive producer, Sean Penn. But when I checked back recently with the filmmakers, Don Hardy and Dana Nachman, they said the offers simply were not coming. It wasn't that they weren't being offered enough for their film but that they were not receiving offers at all, not even from cable TV, which is like a gaping, ravening maw for any content, let alone a film as touching and timely as Love Hate Love.

The film is about people confronting tragedy - not just tragedy, but shattering personal cataclysms involving acts of terrorism, that most arbitrary and pointless of life-altering events. Each of the three subjects of Hardy and Nachman's film encountered the most unfathomable grief - and then found a way to get past it and use their experience to try to do something that changes the world for the better.

Steve and Liz Alderman lost their son in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. Esther Hyman lost her sister Miriam in the London mass-transit bombings of 7/7/05. And Ben Tullipan was himself a victim of the terrorist bombing in Bali in 2002. He nearly died and, having lost his legs and suffered massive burns, was told he'd never walk again.

But the Aldermans overcame their grief to start mental-health clinics in Uganda to help treat victims of war crimes, child-soldier enlistment and the like.

Hyman used the settlement she received for the death of her sister, an artist and lover of art, to fund an eye-care clinic in India.

And Tullipan not only learned to walk (on prosthetic legs), he became an accomplished golfer, even as he devotes his time to working with and helping other people confronted with the loss of limbs or mobility.

It's a stirring and uplifting tale. There were few dry eyes at the Tribeca Film Festival screening. It carries a message not just of hope but of the insistence on hope, of confronting hatred with love.

The filmmakers are not novices - and don't take on easy subject matter. Their previous feature doc was Witch Hunt, a chilling tale of a group of people whose lives were ruined by false allegations of child molesting.

Love Hate Love is the kind of film that wrings tears even as it amazes with the human ability to achieve grace in the face of trouble. It's a story of fighting hatred with an act of love, about people remaking their lives not just to cope with despair but to actively battle it. If nowhere else, it feels perfect for something like the Oprah Winfrey Network, which seems dedicated to exactly this kind of story.

But the filmmakers are still waiting for that - or any - call. It's hard to imagine no one believes there's an audience for a film as well-made as this one.

For more information about "Love Hate Love," click here.

For more reviews, interviews and commentary, visit my website.

 
 
 

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