WAKE UP – The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase Review - We Are Movie Geeks


WAKE UP – The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase Review

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The Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, an annual presentation of the nonprofit Cinema St. Louis, serves as the area’s primary venue for films made by local artists. The Showcase screens works that were shot in the St. Louis region or were written, directed, or produced by St. Louis-area residents or by filmmakers with strong local ties who are now working elsewhere.Because of the Covid-19 health crisis, the Showcase will be presented virtually in 2020. This short video provides more information on CSL’s decision to move its 2020 festivals and events online. CSL is partnering with Eventive, which also handles our ticketing, to present the Virtual Festival. Ticket information for WAKE UP can be found HERE

Review of WAKE UP by Stephen Tronicek

If there is one thing that Nate Townsend’s Wake Up: Stories from the Frontlines of Suicide Prevention wants to tell you, it is that suicide is not just a suicide problem. It is a problem attached to many different factors and many different lives, from gun control to the fight for LGBTQ rights. 

    Wake Up starts with the death of Ryan Candice, a Mizzou student, who took his own life. Following this, his friends put together a cross country film about the widespread problems that are connected to suicide. Along the way, they find an activist taking photos of suicide survivors, the problem with gun control, and a retreat that is helping veterans with their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

    What results is a documentary that succeeds in capturing the scale of the problem, but also succeeds in being respectful of these stories. Wake Up has plenty of the macro statistics, some of which seem like mistakes ( “…over 80% of Utah’s firearm deaths are suicides”), but it never loses sight of the individuals who deal with the issue every single day.

These people include Dese’rae Stage, the creator of Live Through This, a project collecting photographs of suicide survivors. Dese’rae’s story visits the effects of suicide on the LGBTQ community. It also includes Craig Bryan, the Director of the National Center for Veterans Studies who discusses the effects of PTSD on veterans and the climbing suicide rate in veterans and Roger Thompson who talks about his experience with PTSD, but also his experience at the Nation Abilities Center. 

    All of these aspects come together to form a cohesive thesis on suicide prevention in the United States: That there are many things that contribute to feelings of suicide, some that may seem too large for you to handle, but that there are many people out there to help. 

    The filmmaking is as clean as most documentaries. The elements aren’t necessarily special, but they are perfectly polished with B-Roll rolling into interviews all flowing together through the fantastic original score by Roberto Murgia. While many documentaries are hampered by a pacing problem, Wake Up avoids such a pitfall. Wake Up is a film about hope. It is about different people facing up against one of the most horrible things in the world and fighting it. As that, it is one of the most important films of the year, showing us true stories of suicide but also shows us that we can just keep fighting.

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