About three and a half weeks ago, I learned of The Way We Get By while listening to the weekly YouServed BlogTalkRadio show. It was mentioned that the film would be making its World Premier at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin.
I checked the screening schedule and found out when and where it would screen. There would be a screening on March 15, March 16 and March 19. I preference was to attend the Monday screening at noon. Then, I emailed an old friend of mine that I was aware had some knowledge of how the film fest worked.
With my changing work schedule, I was able to have today off, and I called the theater last night to see when I might be able to purchase a ticket. Tickets go on sale 15 minutes before the screenings, but people who have purchased a badge for SXSW have first priority. My pockets aren't that deep, so I was going to have to take my chances.
I got to the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar about 11:40am. I had a good feeling when I didn't see a big line waiting to get in. I parked my car and walked up to the front doors. I approached a couple of people who were holding the door open, asking if I could purchase a ticket for The Way We Get By. She pointed me inside to a lady behind the counter. I paid my $10 and was directed where to go.
Alamo Drafthouse is one of those rare movie theaters where they serve food and drinks to the patrons. Since I hadn't had any breakfast and neglected to grab one of my protein bars before heading out the door, I perused the menu for something to tide me over until the end of the movie, wrote down my order, and a waitress came to pick it up.
Then, the movie started. The Way We Get By is a documentary. It follows three retired persons who also happen to act as Troop Greeters at the airport in Bangor, Maine. Bangor is the main pass-through point for troops headed to and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter what time of day or night, no matter the weather, there is a group of people out there to greet the deplaning troops, offering handshakes, hugs, free cellphone usage and snacks.
Bill Knight is a widower World War II veteran. Joan Gaudet is a widowed mother of eight grown children (one of her sons, Aron, is the director of this film), grandmother of many, and even great-grandmother to a few. Jerry Mundy, "not as lean, not as mean, but still a Marine", is also dealing with what aging brings. He is alone now, having lost his son many years ago, quite unexpectedly, at the age of 10. These three people find purpose in greeting our troops.
This film is very powerful. It will make you laugh out loud. It will make you cry. It will make you think: if given the opportunity, would I make myself available, on short notice, at any time of night or day, to drop everything to go do what they do? It will make you think: what kind of legacy will I leave behind? have I made a difference in anyone's life?
The Way We Get By - Trailer from The Way We Get By on Vimeo.
The Way We Get By is entered in the Documentary Feature Competition at SXSW. The award ceremony is to take place Tuesday, March 17 at 8pm. Good luck to Aron Gaudet, Gita Pullapilly, Dan Ferrigan and the rest of the crew in this competition.
Aron, Gita and Dan participated in a Q&A after the screening today. Since much of what they shared was follow-up on what has happened since the filming ended, and even after the project was completed, I won't spoil the film by sharing. They did say, however, that they were focusing on screenings at film festivals, and were looking to have screenings at US military bases, and to have it broadcast on PBS in November, along with releasing a DVD, around Veterans Day. I did approach them at the end of the Q&A to let them know I'd heard about the movie through YouServed. Gita said she loves the t-shirt she got from CJ ;-)
If you have an opportunity to see this film, I would highly recommend it.
The Way We Get By did win an award. If I am deciphering the announcement page correctly, for Feature Film Jury Awards, in the Documentary Feature category, it was recognized with a Special Jury Award. I can't find anything that explains exactly what that means, but not all of the documentaries were recognized (it appears there were two other awards for documentaries). Very cool, and congratulations to Aron, Gita and crew!