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Sam Now 2023


Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Reed Harkness, Jason Reed, Darren Lund, Heather Hawksford, and Adam Spiro Brown
Directed by Reed Harkness
Streaming, 87 mins

High School - General Adult
Documentaries; Family Relations; Growth and Development

Date Entered: 11/06/2023

Reviewed by Christina R. Hilburger, Research and Information Literacy Services Librarian, SUNY Fredonia

Sam Now is a poignant and introspective documentary that delves into the compelling journey of Sam Harkness and his half-brother as they embark on a West Coast road trip to unravel the mystery surrounding their mother's sudden disappearance. Director Reed Harkness crafts a unique narrative by skillfully weaving together 25 years of home videos, intimate family interviews, and experimental filmmaking, resulting in a mosaic of love, longing, and loss.

At its core, Sam Now is a coming-of-age story. Sam Harkness seeks to escape the shadow of a singular traumatic event that has haunted his family for years. As we witness Sam's personal growth and transformation throughout his 2,000-mile journey, we are reminded of the enduring human spirit's capacity for resilience and renewal.

The film's strength lies in its ability to balance weighty themes and emotional reckonings with youthful energy and an optimistic spirit. It explores the coping mechanisms that have led to a cycle of abandonment and avoidance within the family, shedding light on the ripple effects of individual decisions. The documentary's visual richness provides a contextual lens for the audience to reflect on their own lives, fostering open communication and a fostering of honest understanding in our own relationships.

Harkness skillfully weaves together personal narratives, family dynamics, and the enduring quest for healing, making it a valuable resource for academic study and classroom use. This documentary not only sheds light on intergenerational trauma but also delves into the complexities of familial relationships, personal growth, and resilience.

With its engaging storytelling and rich visual tapestry, Sam Now offers a multifaceted lens through which to explore various academic disciplines. Scholars and educators in fields such as family studies, psychology, sociology, film studies, and human development can find ample material for analysis and discussion. Additionally, its vibrant portrayal of youthful energy and optimistic spirit serves as a powerful tool for sparking dialogue on topics of personal growth and the human experience. Sam Now stands as a compelling resource for educators seeking to inspire critical thinking and promote understanding in their classrooms, making it an asset for a wide array of academic studies.

Savannah Film Festival: 2022 Winner Best Documentary & Best Director; BendFilm Festival: 2022 Winner Best Editing & Best Documentary Feature; Zurich Film Festival: 2022 Winner Golden Eye Best International Documentary Film; Indie Memphis Film Festival 2022 Winner Best Documentary Feature

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