|The Tampa Film Review for September by Nolan Canova and Chris Woods|
"3:10 to Yuma" by Mike Smith
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk by Lisa Ciurro
Loose In Las Vegas: Ray Steckler Update by ED Tucker
Movie Premiere: Secrets of a Medicine Man Documentary by Andy Lalino
Reviewing a Reviewer: The Story Behind Bob Ross by Paul Guzzo
Ocean's 14 .... Barry Bonds .... Sid Won't be There .... No Shadow Puppets This Year .... She Was So Drunk (How Drunk Was She?) .... Bond. James Bond .... Whatever Happened To -- ? Chapter 28: George Dzundza by Mike Smith
|Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review|
I was thrilled to have received notice that Tampa Bay-based actresses/filmmakers Nanette Fenton and Sheri Lawrence were premiering their new documentary Secrets of a Medicine Man at the famed Royalty Theater in downtown Clearwater on September 15th. Having known them for years, I figured this team was going to unfurl a special night, and my wife Sandy and I were more than happy to come out to support what proved to be a remarkable work. The following is an account of the evening.
We made the drive from the bay side of Clearwater over toward the gulf. Our first mission was to sit down to a nice dinner, which we did before the premiere. Sandy and I love going to our absolute favorite Thai food restaurant: Chiang Mai, which is next door to the Royalty Theater. It's the cleanest, most atmospheric Thai restaurant we've ever had the pleasure of dining at, and the food is incredible. I got my usual Pad Thai, and Sandy got the Ginger Chicken dish, which was out-of-this-world. Anytime we have to visit downtown Clearwater, we use it as an excuse to patronize Chiang Mai. And while there, I learned they had $1 sushi on Mondays!
After the great meal, we took a quick walk next door and entered the Royalty, encountering impeccably dressed people funneling in through the entranceway. Greeted with smile and a welcome, we were handed a souvenir (a small flyer) and made our way to the theater entrance doors. But, I decided to get a few photos first. And who should be walking out but Nanette Fenton herself. She met us with a huge smile and thanked us for coming. We didn't want to take up too much of her time by chatting, but I did ask if I could snap a quick picture of her, and she agreed.
Inside the auditorium was a sea of familiar faces. First, we spotted our good friend Sheri Lawrence ("Fermentia" from Filthy, Contact from Beyond) and her husband Larry. She was pleased to see us, and vice-versa. As with Nanette, we didn't want to take time away from her as she mingled, so we wished her well and made our way to our seats. En route, we also ran into another friend, notable film supporter Ray Nelson and director of Real Premonition Ziad Ahmed.
As we were being seated, two more friends of ours gave us a shout: Guy Balson, our Pinellas County Film Commission Manager, and artist/writer Patricia Ross, who I used to work with at a previous job ("that which shall not be named!"). Guy and Patty took their seats directly in front of us, and we conversed easily. We asked about our mutual friend Shawn Dudley, who was not able to attend due to an out-of-town excursion. It was great catching up with Guy and Patty, who informed us of late-breaking local film news and other premieres.
But the star of the show was indeed Secrets of a Medicine Man. As the lights dimmed, Nanette took to the podium and introduced the much-anticipated documentary. It seemed an apt setting: a preserved movie house even older than the esteemed Tampa Theater, about to return to its primary glory of showcasing motion pictures.
Secrets of a Medicine Man is about the teachings and work of Billy "Rainwater" Barnes, a Native American who specializes in the natural healing arts. In his lifetime, Rainwater has helped countless people with their medical conditions, all with the knowledge that have been verbally passed down from his Indian ancestors for thousands of years. Rainwater heals primarily with a tea recipe that when prepared, may assist in treating a variety of ailments, such as diabetes, fertility, insomnia, and even cancer and HIV. A cure-all? Maybe, maybe not. Guess that depends on how the individual responds to the herbal tea. At the very least, according to the testimonials within the film, it indefinitely did (in my opinion) help the malady by at least 30% in most every case highlighted. Ultimately, the documentary presents the facts and lets the viewer decide.
Rainwater seemed like a genuinely caring individual who prepares his remedies with minimal ingredients in just the right dosages, and are tailor-made for the individual requesting the potion. His natural medicine goes beyond the preparations of the teas, however, and whenever practical and possible, Billy practices ritualistic Indian dances and ceremonies to further assist in sending the condition into remission. Billy claims he can also sense misalignments in one's spirit, and knows when someone is unhealthy (and often the direct issue) by simply looking into their eyes or reading their auras. One of the most interesting segments of the doc was of an actual Indian ritual videotaped in the Brooksville area with authentic costumes and face paintings.
Along with learning about Rainwater, much of the documentary focuses on the people whose lives he has changed over the course of his lifetime. The stories are astounding. There are accounts of former patients who have achieved cancer-free status with the use of this special tea in conjunction with traditional medical treatments (chemotherapy, etc.). Even the producer herself, Nanette Fenton, dramatically reduced her cholesterol and triglyceride level (so much, it was amazing!) after drinking Rainwater's tea.
Rainwater's holistic concoctions are viewed by the filmmakers as an alternative to "traditional" medicine, which has thus far failed to cure a multitude of diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, AIDS, and cancer. The filmmakers speculated: why have their been no modern "cures" for diseases since the latter half of the 20th century to today? Is it the medical community, who benefits from the existence of these dread diseases, who does not wish for them cured? Is it a sacred cash cow that they wish only to treat and not to cure? Makes one wonder, and it's hard to ignore the cynicism.
Horror fans will note that Secrets of a Medicine Man is hosted/narrated by J. LaRose, who appeared in Saw III. You will remember him as the convict who had to pull chains out of his body in a failed attempt to defeat one of Jigsaw's dreaded traps! Co-narrator Marshall Payn (also Executive Producer), a warm, fatherly type, does a commendable job venturing to different parts of the country chronicling the ways Rainwater has aided those who put faith in his healing powers.
Secrets of a Medicine Man was somewhat of a family effort. Nanette teamed up with her daughter, Tammy Peralta, who served as cinematographer and editor. I thought she did an exceptionally good job, as the documentary was executed very professionally, with good graphics and an attention to sound editing, which can often trip up less-experienced filmmakers and downgrade the project. An excellent, atmospheric soundtrack was composed and performed by Greg Vadimsky. On the "on-camera" side, Rainwater's wife Carol Barnes is spotlighted in several segments as one who was helped by his herbal tea to treat a chest tumor.
After the credits rolled, the audience erupted in heartfelt applause. We all felt like for one hour we were exposed to true magic, and given an insight to a secret world where perhaps there is hope in the face of a darkening doom. Nanette returned to the podium to introduce Sheri Lawrence to the crowd, followed by her daughter Tammy. Nanette went on to introduce other cast/crew members, some of who were cancer survivors and are still here to partake in this wonderful night of enlightenment.
A very special moment happened, however, when the subject of the documentary, Billy "Rainwater" Barnes, was introduced, and the crowd gave him a standing O. It was quite the moment. I'll bet a lot of people felt that, after viewing the film & experiencing stories of honest accounts of how he changed so many lives for the better, an accolade such as this was extremely appropriate. As people sat back down, Billy took the podium, stating "Boy, I've never met a mayor before!" (referring to the city of Largo's mayor, who was in attendance) and answering a multitude of health-related questions. Many of the moviegoers had or knew someone with a medical condition, and sought sage advice on how to handle the situation. Barnes was also quick to point out that his wife had much to do with his reputation, and she too was present at the premiere that night.
Rainwater did the best he could, given the short time-frame he was restricted to, in diagnosing the problems, with most of his replies necessarily having to be "please contact me later for a more in-depth discussion of the condition." Questions ranged from weight loss to insomnia to severe diseases, with many people seeing the opportunity as a foot in the door toward some type of hope. The perception of Rainwater as a Miracle healer is best left up to the individual, not the government or media, but in any event people really seemed to appreciate his presence, and acknowledged a life so generous and well-lived.
As Barnes left the podium, the guests were thanked for attending, and the mingling commenced. Many were quick on their feet to talk to Rainwater on a more personal level, in which we were no exception. Also present were: noted Production Manager Mary Jane Heath; ex-FMPTA president Dale Johnson and his wife Miriam Goodspeed, and actresses Shade Burnett & Karen Ezell (whose son Justin was in Filthy).
After we shook hands with Rainwater and Carol, we departed for home. Thanks, Nanette and Sheri for a great night that we all won't soon forget. We hope Secrets of a Medicine Man is a resounding success!
Late Breaking News: Secrets of a Medicine Man has won 5 Crystal Reel awards in the following categories: Best Script, Best Narration/Host, Best Documentary, Best Music, and Best Editing.
For more about Secrets of a Medicine Man and Fenton Productions, please visit their website: http://www.fentonproductionsllc.com
"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino. The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.