Far From The Tree is a film unlike any other.
Mostly because it tells the stories of Down syndrome suffer Jason, autistic Jack, Loini, Leah and Joseph, who are little people, and the Reese family, whose eldest son Trevor is serving life in prison.
But also because their outlooks and attitudes are just so honest, powerful, and life-affirming that it is impossible not to be inspired by each and every one of them.
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Documentarian Rachel Dretzin immediately “saw the potential” of “”Far From The Tree” after reading Andrew Solomon’s novel of the same name.
“It is an 800-page book. It is very dense. To someone who hasn’t read the book, the movie might not necessarily jump out.”
“But when you read the book, or just part of the book, it is so striking just how emotional the stories are, how cinematic they are, just how much of a narrative arc they have.”
“They are stories of diversity and triumph. They are very cinematic in that sense, the struggle and the resolution is something that all filmmakers look for.”
“These stories and families are everywhere. It is an experience that people have, having someone in their family that is profoundly different.”
“So in that sense that meant it was ripe for a documentary. Because it is a very real and accessible experience.”
The stories and people in “Far From The Tree” are so powerful and honest that Dretzin actually had to quash or take out most of the cinematic technique she’d integrated in the film. That even included taking out music that was composed for the film by Yo La Tengo.
“One of the big challenges and goals for me was that I didn’t want the film to feel soppy, emotional or manipulative. With this material it is easy to go down that path.”
“So finding that line was one of the real labors of making the film. It is interesting, we had a lot more music in it at one point.”
“Yo La Tengo had composed some music, and the first cut I showed them they were like, ‘I feel manipulated. It is too much. You don’t need it.’ And they were right.”
“It was really interesting. I took out a lot of the music after that. Music can be great, but it can make people unconsciously manipulated. It didn’t need it because the material was so emotional.
Ultimately, for Dretzin, “less is kind of more.”
“They’re very moving stories. I am not making a movie to make people cry. But it is not tears of pain. Just tears of emotion. I think it feels good to access that.”
You can access that emotion when “Far From The Tree” is released in theaters on July 20.