Nearly five years ago, author and entrepreneur Gay Hendricks had an idea to create
a DVD club that would provide films about love, compassion and inspiration. His
idea soon grew into Spiritual Cinema Circle, a subscription-based DVD club that
finds movies at film festivals around the world and delivers them to members
each month on a DVD that they get to keep.
So, what exactly is spiritual cinema? Box office hits such as Field of Dreams, Ghost, Whale Rider and What the Bleep Do We Know?! are all well-known examples. According to Hendricks, "Spiritual Cinema is the kind of entertainment we really need these days: movies that make you feel better about being human."
One perfect little gem of spiritual cinema is the short film Validation, which is available free at www.WatchValidation.com. As a way of saying thank you this holiday season, Spiritual Cinema Circle (SCC) is providing a free on-line viewing of this heartwarming film (16 minutes) which exemplifies the uplifting movies SCC offers its subscribers.
This enchanting film tells the story of a parking attendant who gives his customers real validation by dispensing both free parking and free compliments. It’s a great reminder of how we can all create a better world, instantly, by sharing a smile and a few kind words. It will bring a smile to your face and maybe even some joyous tears!
I recently caught up with writer/director of Validation, Kurt Kuenne, to find out more about his film. Kuenne is an award-winning filmmaker and composer of both fiction and documentary films. Upon the release of his first feature in 1999, he was named one of the Top 25 New Faces of Indie Film by Filmmaker Magazine. His work as a writer/director/composer includes the teen drama Scrapbook (1999) starring Eric Balfour, the PBS documentary Drive-In Movie Memories (2001) with Leonard Maltin, and a series of popular short film musical comedies – Rent-A-Person (2004), Slow (2007) and The Phone Book (2008) – the last two of which are currently playing festivals around the world. His award-winning documentary, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father, premiered at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival and opens theatrically nationwide this year.
Where did the story for Validation come from?
Kurt Kuenne: One day, I was at the mall and forgot to get my parking validated. As I was walking back to the validation booth, it occurred to me how nice it would be if, when I asked for validation, they gave me "real" validation. And then I realized, "That’s my good friend, the brilliant actor, TJ Thyne ("Bones"). That’s what he does!" I knew immediately that TJ would play a parking attendant who dispensed both free parking and free compliments. The story grew from there.
How did making this film change you?
KK: We filled out the cast with dozens of actors from TJ’s theatre troupe, Theatre Junkies. We had a wonderful time making the film and I now have a wealth of new friends in my life. Showing the film at festivals has been very rewarding. Kiwanis has begun using the film in its leadership training programs, certain ministers use it with their congregations and some organizations tell me that they show it to their employees to boost morale. I never would have anticipated that reaction, and it’s wonderful to know that people are finding something in the film that perhaps I wasn’t aware was there.
What are your favorite films with transformational themes?
KK: It’s A Wonderful Life (whose title is on the movie theatre marquee in Validation, by no accident), E.T., Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, and The Shawshank Redemption.
What’s next for you?
KK: My documentary, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father, just opened theatrically in New York and began rolling out nationally. (Cities and theatre info can be found at www.dearzachary.com.) The next film I’m shooting is called Mason Mule. It’s a screenplay for which I won a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences a few years back. I’ve been trying to get it going for many years and it looks like I’ll finally be directing it late spring of next year, fingers crossed.