Days 8 & 9 – The 23rd Sedona International Film Festival: Good Fortune

It may be the final weekend of the 23rd Sedona International Film Festival, but with it comes opportunity. Even if you’re among those who booked the week in order to attend, with such a full slate of so many festival films scheduled for daily screenings, it’s probable that several movies you circled on your list remain unseen; at least, so far.

Check today and tomorrow’s screenings and you’ll notice that the majority of those scheduled for Days 8 and 9 are repeat performances, many of which were sold out earlier in the week

This morning at 9:10am, consider the narrative drama, Frantz, set in a small German village in the aftermath of World War 1. Though principally shot in black and white, Frantz occasionally bleeds into color during crucial moments. Directed by Francois Ozon, this co-French/German production will be screened at Harkins Sedona 6 – Theatre 2.

Two films that were highlighted in this column during the week will receive a second showing today. The warmhearted documentary depicting the lifestyle of the cowboy in modern times, Everything in the Song is True, will be screened this evening at 6:00pm, Harkins Sedona 6 – Theatre 1, while the narrative romantic drama with Alzheimer’s as its central theme, Broken Memories, will have its second screening at Mary D. Fisher Theatre, also at 6:00pm.

The younger set can enjoy a repeat performance of the teenage adventure with a spooky theme, Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket with an early morning screening at 9:00am, Harkins Sedona 6 – Theatre 1, while those with a taste for short films can enjoy Shorts Program 2: Kids and Animation, noon today at Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

Sunday, Day 9, brings the same opportunity of catching up with films you may have missed due to scheduling conflicts. The costume drama starring Cynthia Nixon as poet Emily Dickinson, A Quiet Passion, will be shown tomorrow morning at 9:00am, Harkins Sedona 6 – Theatre 1, while a new, contemporary fairy tale from Britain with Tom Wilkinson and Iliane Ogilvie Thompson, This Beautiful Fantastic, will gets its Sedona festival premiere, also at 9:00am, Sedona Performing Arts Center.

Plus, check the on-line festival schedule for Sunday to discover what Director’s Choice and what Audience Choice films were selected for special screenings. And finally, don’t forget – if it’s the Oscars you’re wanting to see, you can catch Hollywood’s biggest night LIVE right here at the 23rd Sedona International Film Festival. Oscars on the Rocks, a live presentation of this year’s Academy Award broadcast can be enjoyed in the company of fellow festival-goers at 2 locations, beginning at 6:00pm; Harkins Sedona 6 – Theatre 1 and Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

Our final highlight festival film is a documentary that echoes the subject discussed earlier in the week as part of the Filmmaker Conversation series; Documentary Filmmaking. That was where the panel focused on the theme of turning the art of film into activism and the movies into movements. Screening this evening at 6:00pm, Sedona Performing Arts Center, is the inspiring portrait of John Paul DeJoria, Good Fortune. And please note: John Paul DeJoria and directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell will be in attendance.

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You know his face. You’ve seen him on TV. He’s John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist who co-founded the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and the Patron Spirits Company. You probably saw the commercials. And, if you’ve ever watched the ABC TV series, Shark Tank, you may have seen him there, too. What you probably don’t know about him is everything else, and his story is nothing short of fascinating, not to mention ultimately inspiring.

Good Fortune is a fast-paced, eighty-nine minute documentary from directors Josh Tickell and Rebbeca Harrell Tickell, and it tells the tale of John Paul DeJoria, known among his friends as simply JP. “Business is the driving force in this country,” begins the narration by Dan Ackroyd. “Unfortunately, most businesses only have one goal.” As he talks, that familiar funky bass-line of The O’Jays’ 1973 hit For the Love of Money runs underneath.

The pursuit of profit at all costs,” Ackroyd continues, “has affected how we see businesses and the people who run them, and these days, it’s not a pretty picture.” But when it comes to John Paul DeJoria, the picture is a little different.

He’s made a lot, but he’s given back a lot. And he continues to do so. As attorney Robert Kennedy states in the film, the philosophy is simple. “You can do well for yourself by doing great for other people.” You make a pile and you give it away, and by giving it away, you make your pile bigger.

The best example of what DeJoria stands for comes at the beginning of the film, and it sets the tone for everything you’re about to see. In 2013, DeJoria became a guest investor on the reality TV show, Shark Tank. You know how the show works; an aspiring inventor makes a business presentation to a panel of potential investors, the sharks of the title. They listen to the presentation and then decide whether they’d like to invest. On this particular episode, a farmer named Johnny George entered and presented his case for a product he had invented called the Tree-T-Pee, a simple water containment system that helped farmers cut their costs by conserving water, lots of water. Johnny was selling them for $5 a piece and wanted to know if any of the ‘sharks’ were willing to invest. The panel wanted to know why he didn’t charge more, thereby increasing his profit. By increasing the price to, say, $12, they said, he could make so much more. “Yeah, but you’re selling them to farmers,” Johnny responded, adding, “I already make a dollar off each one. Why more?

Ultimately he was turned down. The product was good, but the profit margin wasn’t enough. Then DeJoria spoke up. He liked the product, he liked the idea, he certainly like the notion of conserving water, and he liked Johnny’s attitude. “I like everything you stand for, Johnny,” DeJoria announced. He went ahead and financed the whole deal.

Using a zippy, upbeat pop/rock soundtrack, plenty of lively TV clips, commercials, pictures from DeJoria’s past and several on-camera statements from friends, family and several celebrities that have come to know and admire DeJoria along the way, Good Fortune paints a picture of a man who knows what it is to live in poverty – he was homeless, twice – and what it’s like to be at the top of his game. “Success,” DeJoria states, “is the best that you can do. You may not have a lot of money, but you’ve helped someone else out, and that’s success.”

Born the second son of an Italian immigrant father, who left the family before DeJoria was two, and a Greek immigrant mother, De Joria did whatever he could, along with his older brother, to support the family. Monday through Friday he was in care at a foster home; weekends were with mom. “It’s easy to be happy when things are going well,” Ackroyd’s narration continues, “But it’s the low points that make us who we are.” And DeJoria has certainly had his low points.

The documentary covers a lot of ground as John Paul talks of his days in the navy – “I had a blast” – to his business partnership with hairdresser Paul Mitchell whose life was taken far too early – “I lost a friend” – to the enthralling account of how the Patron Spirits Company was developed. But where financial success might come, as it did in the shape of $140 million with an early return on those Paul Mitchell hair products that DeJoria began by selling door to door, instead of using it to support an excessive lifestyle, the money went towards building a sustainable, organic farm in Hawaii. John Paul and his partner, Mitchell, wanted to learn how to live off the land using solar-energy power and how it could be used to benefit the greater good. As his daughter, Michaeline DeJoria, insists, “He makes choices that are good for others.”

There’s a point in the film where a clip from CNN shows an interviewer asking DeJoria if he would have any regrets if he lost everything. “No,” he replies, “If it’s gone, it’s gone.” If that was the response of any other billionaire, your own response might be a cynical, yeah, right. But when it’s said by John Paul DeJoria and you know what you know about the man, his background, his achievements and his genuine desire to help and make the planet a better place for others, you believe him, without question. “In the end, everything is ok,” DeJoria tells us, “And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Good Fortune will be shown today, Saturday February 25, 6pm at Sedona Performing Arts

Posted in 2017 Sedona International Film Festival Reports

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