I've been watching quite a few documentaries on Netflix and have been moved by some of the incredible hardships people have to endure. These stories, as told in this type of format, always 'end' in redemption and healing, which I cannot relate to, especially recently when things just seem to be getting harder. But the stories also don't minimize the cost of these transformations to the people whose stories are being told. That part I can relate to. The endings do not take away from the depth of feeling the stories have reached in me, nor the compassion they have evoked. And of course, we know they're not really "endings". In many cases, it is just the beginning.
Buck - Buck Brannaman was the inspiration for the Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer, which I have not seen. What he endured as a child is heart-breaking, and what and who he became as an adult is humbling and inspiring. Having had almost no experience with horses, I'm kind of afraid of them, and it was nice to learn about their gentle natures when they are treated with respect. I'm hoping to go horseback riding someday with my dear friend Jess, an experienced horsewoman - and a bereaved mother and sister.
Becoming Chaz - Chaz Bono tells his story of embracing his true identity with charm and honesty. I particularly liked the segment which shows him supporting young people and their families grappling with the same issues. His courage in being so open about his own story is a great model for someone like me. So often I just want to shut up and hide away but it wouldn't do anyone any good, least of all me.
Poster Girl - Robynn Murray is a young woman who battles Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since returning from Iraq. She finds solace and healing through art and poetry, and through telling her story. To be a war veteran and speak out against war - in America - that has got to be tough. Talk about courage.
Crime After Crime - The often-frustrating story of Deborah Peagler who was convicted of killing her shockingly abusive boyfriend and languished in prison until a pair of lawyers decided to take on her case. The self-serving people in power are particularly disgusting in this story. And the statistics on abused women in prison is so disheartening. It's hard to grasp how unbelievably long this poor woman suffered in prison, and how crucial timing becomes towards the end of the film.
Serving Life - Powerful story of prison inmates who volunteer in the prison's hospice. The insight these men provide about their own stories is astounding. By the way, I forgot to say, have tissues handy for all these films! I'm sure you know this about me by now - I'm just always trying to make you cry.
Sons of Perdition - The focus of this film is on a group of young people's escape from an abusive polygamous Mormon community. As a parent, especially a bereaved parent, it is hard to watch anything connected to child abuse, but the focus is more on their lives once they leave. I feel so sad for the children in that situation and hopeful for the ones who are able to get away. It was particularly shocking to learn that they get no formal education and don't know basic facts like the capital of America or who Bill Clinton is. The main subjects of the film are young men but we do see some of the young women who escape and by everyone's account, what the girls in those communities have to endure is much worse than what the boys do. How can this be allowed to go on?
Mario's Story - Mario Rocha was 16 when he was accused of murder after a shooting occurred at a party he was at when he was in high school. During his time in prison he discovered an aptitude and a love of writing. The determination of his lawyers and supporters is inspiring.