I was just alerted to this new feature-length documentary from Antwone Fisher – yes, that Antwone Fisher, who was the subject of the acclaimed Denzel Washington-directed, Derek Luke starrer that bears his name.
The feature doc is titled This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr, and it centers on Leon T. Garr, born March 23, 1914, in Ruston, Louisiana, who, as the film's synopsis reads…
… endured and witnessed unspeakable horrors as a young man growing up in America's deep south. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Mr. Garr migrated to Los Angeles, CA. With a third grade education, he entered the construction business and amassed millions, which he used to help enrich others. At the age of seventy six, Mr. Garr purchased a failed savings and loan, and transformed it into Founders National Bank. Mr. Garr became Chairman Garr, and with that, Founders Bank became the only National Bank owned by an African American west of the Mississippi. His documentary is a rich American tale of a driven man who, in his own words, tells of his life's journey through nearly one hundred years of America's most triumphant and tragic times.
Fascinating story, right? I'd say that, along with the documentary feature, Mr Garr's life story could also inspire a scripted feature-length film.
In addition to directing the doc, Antwone Fisher also shot, produced, and edited the film; basically, he did it all!
According to Fisher, he and Garr worked together on the project, daily, for over a year. From the press kit, in his words:
Our routine was I would pick him up from his home and bring him to my house where we would spend each day talking for hours about his life and experiences, the places he’s traveled and the people he knew. While we were there as professionals to interview for the documentary and our friendship was new, talking with Mr. Garr was like sitting with someone I had always known who had ninety-nine years of stories, emotions and history to share and the cameras just happened to be there to witness. In fact, the cameras, at times, seemed like a third wheel, an interruption of a very good conversation about the lessons of life and business and the history of our people. Some days, I wished I were in the stories with him and other days, I was glad I wasn’t because I do not know if I am made of the stuff of which one must be made in order to endure being African American during various times of which Mr. Garr spoke.
And as for why he wore so many hats, Fisher said noted the length of time it took to make the film, as well as the budget, as factors in that decision; adding that he didn't cry about doing the work, and that the process was actually fun!
The film premiered earlier this year at the Pan African Film Festival – a festival we actually covered; but, for some inexplicable reason, completely missed! So I'm really glad that Mr Fisher reached out and alerted us to the film, which isn't yet commercially available, but will sooner than later.
And once we have release info, we'll post it here, certainly.
In the meantime, watch a clip from the film below: