Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Directed by Steve Hoover
This film opens with nighttime footage of a young American man persuading a grandfather, whose friends are loudly objecting, to abandon a temple ritual and transport his sick grandchild to a hospital on the back of his motorcycle. Forced to stop at a train crossing, the young man, Rocky Braat, looks back and sees the grandfather unwrap the girl from her blanket. Her head flops back, her body is limp. She's died on back of the bike. Braat, mourning and ostracized by the superstitious Indian community where he works in a hostel for children with HIV, weeps and wonders if he has the guts to stay in India. Braat, who has left home and traveled to Chennai (Madras) to find something "real" in life, finds a harsh, but loving reality among the ailing children, who adore him and call him Rocky-anna (which roughly translates to "Rocky-big brother"). Braat embraces these alienated children that others — including filmmaker and Braat's best friend Steve Hoover, Hoover confesses — are afraid to touch because of their virus. He engages in horseplay with them, teaches them English, puts them to bed, and watches some of them die from infections their immune systems can't fight. Returning to India for Rocky's wedding to an Indian woman ("I am marrying India," Rocky says), the filmmaker records the near-death of Surya, the little boy Rocky calls his sidekick because he seldom leaves Rocky's side. Surya's skin and lips are sloughing off, and his beautiful brown eyes are glued shut; his chance of survival is 10 percent. Watching Braat care for him is devastating; Surya, unlike so many others beats the odds ... this go-round. This child, who seems sturdy enough when we first meet him, illustrates how tenuous life is for these children and the kind of hardships Rocky-anna chooses to endure in exchange for their love. 3 p.m. Thursday at 610 Main, 2:15 p.m. Friday at Heifer International. Hoover will participate in a post-screening Q&A each day. LNP.
Directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
You won't see the anti-choice members of the Arkansas legislature at this movie about the doctors who, despite the murder of their colleague Dr. George Tiller, continue to risk their lives to offer late-term — after 25 weeks — abortions. So they won't hear pregnant women talk about the fetal anomalies that mean, for example, that the bones of one fetus are breaking in the womb and if the child survives it will live but a brief time in agony. Or the woman who decides that because her fetus would not be a viable child, the kindest choice would be to let him go, instead of bearing him and having to take him off a ventilator. Or the father who says that allowing the baby to endure a brief life of pain creates as much guilt as ending his life before the pain can begin. Or the 14-year-old who wants to die. Or the return visits of the women to express gratitude toward the doctors. They won't hear the attorney general of Nebraska call an abortion doctor who once practiced there, whose horse barn, with 25 horses locked in their stalls, was torched by an anti-choice group, a "sick individual." Or the recollections of the doctors — most of them past 70 — of the women they treated during their medical residencies pre-Roe v. Wade who suffered and died after back-alley abortions. Or the doctors themselves who can't justify some of the abortions wanted and suggest adoption. These four doctors — that's it, there are now just four — aren't monsters "executing babies" as the Fox News anchor declares but men and women who are caring for their patients' mental and physical health and their unviable unborn. 5:45 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson will participate in post-screening Q&As. LNP.
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