One Man's Perspective: Little picture makes a big impact

Saturday, February 27, 2010

There was no mass marketing campaign.

We've been hearing about "Shutter Island" and "The Wolfman" for months leading up to their recent release. TV ads, previews in theaters, radio spots, large ads in major newspapers.

And it worked. Viewers flocked to the theater for both and made the film producers and movie studios quite a bit of cash.

But there is a movie that is far more important and received little if any fanfare.

It's an independently produced film that offers a very dramatic, realistic portrayal of issues facing teenagers on a daily basis in high schools across America - including schools in northwest Iowa.

"To Save a Life," which officially ended its two-week run in Spencer Friday, takes a stark look at the life of a popular high school athlete who is faced with the suicide of a childhood friend -- a friend that he walked away from as he embraced his popularity in school.

The movie includes a very realistic look at issues facing teenagers today including the party scene, underage drinking, drug use, teen pregnancy, popularity, bullying, exclusion and loneliness, the in-crowd and the out-crowd, the Christians and those who pretend to be, and dealing with parents. All of the stories are intertwined into one very powerful movie as one young man begins to take a hard look at his life, the way he interacts with those around him, and the consequences of the actions he takes.

Every teenager should see this movie. Every person who deals with children - teachers, pastors, youth ministers and parents should see it too.

On Wednesday night, it looked like a couple of area youth groups took the opportunity to enjoy the film.

Unfortunately it's gone from Spencer. I think it's on its way to Algona if I'm not mistaken, and while I would certainly agree it's worth a one-hour drive, it might be better if we can get our local ministerial organization to work with a group like Positively Spencer Youth to try and bring it back for a week by renting out the theater for a couple of free shows for the public.

I can't express how much this movie - which really wasn't even directed at me, provided a very personal impact. I lost one of my best friends in high school to suicide. While my family lived in Rock Valley, a beautiful young high school senior - a cheerleader who everybody liked - took her own life. Every time someone chooses to end their own life, it's tragic; but equally tragic is the impact that such horrors have on those left behind.

"To Save a Life" offers a look into ways to help reduce that risk by simply being better people.

It gives you pause to think. You will laugh. You might cry, I know I did. You will be happy for the characters in moments of triumph, and you will feel their pain in moments of failure. But this movie will touch you - and hopefully you will be a better person for seeing it.

I'm asking PSY and the Ministerial Association or the church's local youth ministers to get together immediately with the manager of the Southpark 7 or the Spencer 3 Theaters and get this movie back for one more week. If your goal is to reach and enhance the life of kids, offering a couple of free showings of this movie will definitely touch some lives.

And I would be glad to do anything I can to help make this happen.