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Film Journal: “Far From the Tree”

Sundance Selects and Participant Media present Far from the Tree: A Film by Rachel Dretzin. Opening in theaters and VOD July 20, 2018.

by Doris Toumarkine

The stories here … benefit from effective cross-cutting amongst the families profiled, enriched by home movies and generous access. Viewers meet both parents and their children via interviews today and old footage. The children are already adults, but most are followed from a young age; all are far different from what their parents expected. Both familiar and extreme, the differences include Down syndrome, dwarfism, autism, severely aberrant criminality and the inevitable sexual orientation.

… It’s no spoiler to reveal that throughout these stories it’s love again that saves the day. What does surprise is how incredibly moving these real-life characters are and how much strength and good can come from losing our fears, prejudices and impatience and opening our minds. Far from the Tree, an inspirational journey, also turns out to be an unexpected lesson in the difference between sympathy and empathy, as while firing the intellect it forces our feelings.

(To read the full review, please visit Film Journal.)