My apologies for the tardiness of this post. Yes, I realize no one was waiting for me to write this.
I saw a really wonderful film called The Beaver Trilogy Part IV at the Midwest Independent Film Festival. Let me back up.
It was probably 10 years ago or so when I saw the movie The Beaver Trilogy. I have no recollection how I learned about it or the local screening I attended. Maybe it was a Critic’s Choice in the Chicago Reader at the time? It was a free screening, and wasn’t at a movie theater. I saw the movie at Columbia College, in downtown Chicago.
I had no expectations. It is a strange movie. It contains three short movies tied together, hence the “trilogy” of the title. The first part is a documentary about “Groovin’ Gary”. The next two movies are fictionalized retellings of the first, along with scenes that would be considered “behind-the-scenes” of the first part.
It’s on YouTube. Pleeeeeease watch it. It’s wonderful.
Okay, have you watched it? Pretty amazing, huh?
I know there is a “wow” factor for the 2nd and 3rd parts of the movie, in that the respective leads in each movie would go on to become famous for other roles. Sure, that’s cool. But what struck me so much was what I felt when I watched it. I felt so much empathy for Groovin’ Gary. He was goofy, but genuine, ambitious, naive, sincere.
You don’t get the full story of Groovin’ Gary, at least not directly from him. The 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy have an event which takes place that may or may not be fiction. Did it happen? One strong impression that I got from this movie was that the filmmaker was a little haunted by his brief encounter with Gary. There was self-criticism and empathy from him in equal measure.
I only watched The Beaver Trilogy one time, but it stayed with me, for years.
Okay, so I used to volunteer a lot at the Midwest Film Festival. It’s on the first Tuesday of every month, showing films having some kind of midwestern connection. I thought I’d volunteer for the April screening. HOWEVER, I learned that something called “The Beaver Trilogy Part IV” would be playing. Whoa! I learned later it had played Sundance the year prior, but this was the first time I was aware of it. I HAD TO SEE IT. Maybe I’d get some of the questions I had answered!
I learned when I got to the theater that the director of the original Trilogy, Trent Harris, had not directed Part IV. I was a little bummed, but hopeful. What unfolded in Part IV was both a heartfelt tribute to the original Beaver Trilogy, to the original Groovin’ Gary (real name Richard Griffiths), and to Trilogy’s filmmaker Trent Harris himself. It was a great, affectionate, warm movie. I loved it. I had my questions answered, and I was so glad I got to see it.
The film’s director, Brad Besser, actually flew in for the screening. I was able to talk to him afterwards. He was gracious and friendly, and it was obvious this was a movie he made with all his heart. Also, I learned from him, it was likely he who was partially responsible for the original Beaver Trilogy movie being screened at Columbia College — he was a student of Columbia at the time, and pushed hard for a screening of the film. He wanted other people to see it.
So thanks, Mr. Besser, for showing me the first Trilogy, and double-triple-quadruple thanks for making Part IV. THANK YOU.
I don’t know if I can throw any traffic Mr. Besser’s way, but please, order the movie and watch it. It’s on VOD, it’s on iTunes. Besser, Trent Harris, and most of all, Groovin’ Gary, deserve it.
Trailer for Part IV: There is a link to buy the movie on YouTube. You can also search for the film on iTunes and purchase it there.