Recent Press and Praise

Jan 23, 2009

Second Screening a Great Success!

I can't believe we failed to post about the success of the second screening at Slamdance. It was terrific!!! The sold out crowd found the doc to be engaging and many commented on how they hoped it would bring healing to Up With People members and the general public. It is a special privilege to watch audiences respond to the film, laughing out loud, clapping with enthusiasm, or fully captivated at tender moments. Our Q&A was as vibrant at the second screening as the first when some of the Up With People alumni were in the audience. Among the first questions asked is how Glenn Close views the film, or more appropriately, whether she is coming to accept the reality of her past as a child growing up in Moral Re-Armament and performing in Up With People for many years. I can't speak to how Glenn Close may react to the archival footage of her early acting and singing career in the final cut of SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS. However, after seeing a rough cut of the doc she told our Executive Producer, Jack Lechner, that she felt the film was "too balanced for her taste." Jack says she wanted the film to be more critical of Up With People, but for me I don't think that would have been fair. I can only speak to my husband's experience and how difficult it was for him to reflect on his experiences with Up With People and how he felt that as the front African American speaker for a group that was predominantly white, how he felt he was "an apologist" for what was going on in the world, and that because he was excited to be with the group moving in high places around the world, he "gave them what they wanted."

How often do we do that? Give people what they want? I think for some Up With People alumni I am not giving them what they want, but from many others who have written to me I am being thanked for presenting a fair story. This is no puff piece, but we did strive to present the truth behind the smiley upbeat organization---good and bad---as reflected by members. For those that have never heard of Up With People and who have attended the screenings, they keep talking about it and the relevance of the doc today. The human experiences expressed in the film goes beyond the Up With People organization itself. That is what makes this director smile. I'm even overhearing comments coming from people sitting near me in other screenings---there is a lot of buzz in the air!

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