Brother Joseph and the Grotto (2013)
“Brother Joseph and the Grotto,” currently wrapping post-production, tells the “true fairy tale” of the tiny Bavarian hunchback monk who built a miniature city in the Alabama woods. Brother Joseph Zoettl, who died in 1961, built more than 125 miniature buildings out of concrete and recycled materials on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey in Cullman. This feature documentary is a creative chronicle of Brother Joseph’s life, which contains many of the hallmarks of classic fairy tales (e.g. name change, long journey, superhuman feat). As such, the documentary will have a fairy-tale structure.
“You can make a lot more money painting naked women than you can painting pictures of Jesus,” says artist Stephen S. Sawyer in the documentary “Sawyerville,” which was shot while ART for GOD, a unique family business, made difficult changes in order to survive. Using original footage, interviews, family photos, home movies and Steve’s art, “Sawyerville” chronicles a critical year in the life of ART for GOD, revealing its broad strokes, tiny details and creative conviction. [Running time: 58 minutes]
Download the director’s statement
Immaterial John (2004)
Friends and acquaintances describe John van der Harst as “hard-core,” “intense” and “persistent.” Those words only begin to describe the life of this environmental activist. The Detroit native has lived in a small Nashville apartment for more than two decades, working to “salvage what’s left of the earth.” He lives on roughly $3,600 per year. Shunning cars, computers and other luxuries, he runs everywhere he goes, uses a rotary phone and recycles or reuses materials to astonishing efficiency. He picks leaves from wild poke plant for greens, glues recovered soles to his running shoes when they wear out, and cuts his own hair.
Living frugally allows van der Harst to work only when he wants to–and devote the rest of his time to issues he deems important, like solid waste management. He is active in a number of social movements and well-known in local politics. He has also been sued by corporations he has worked to shut down. Red Clay Pictures–through interviews with van der Harst, friends, politicians, activists and others–provides a fascinating look at one man’s unique lifestyle and brand of activism. [Running time: 39 minutes]