| MULTI-AWARD WINNING documentary producer, Grizzly Adams Productions, has entered the feature film field. And it's first entry, Friends for Life, is a winner, having already captured 12 awards covering virtually every catagory in film making during screenings for industry professionals at various film festivals.|
This moving family film is set in a colorful small town during present time, where an uncrupulous land developer is using Eminent Domain to take over most of the town to build in its place an expensive resort. He will use any means necessary to accomplish his financial goal.
A retired city lawyer who settled there is struggling with his emotions following the death of his wife. He is somewhat comforted by a grey wolf, named Sierra that his wife had been feeding and made friends with, even though from a distance. He looked forward to the daily visits.
The lawyer, Jim, played by veteran actor, Michael Flynn, sinks deeper into depression over the loss of his wife which evolves into a sense of hopelessness, especially when Sierra suddenly stops coming around.
At the height of his despair, an angel visits him to inform him that to reclaim the purpose of his life, he must go where he is needed. At that moment, a wolf is heard howling in the distance. The angel, Raphael ("But you can call me Ralph.") played by Jimmy Chunga, turning to the direction of the howling says, "I think this is your first call."
Jim hikes deep into the woods toward the sound where he finds Sierra lying dead with four wolf pups. She had been shot by the land developer who wanted the land cleared of any creatures that might interfere with his project.
Jim knows that the pups can not survive without their mother, so he gathers them up and takes them home with him. His bonding with the pups gives him the purpose he needs to carry on and at the same time brings him great joy. As the pups grow, there comes the time when he must release them which he reluctantly does.
The town does not know how to fight back against the land developer. Jim comes forward to help with his legal skills, and sets up office in a booth in the town restaurant to meet with residents to plan how to save their town. The owner of the cafe, Maggie, wonderfully played by Tayva Patch who is fighting to keep her property, was a friend of Jim's late wife and tried to encourage him to go on with life. He now has a driving purpose to do so.
The developers plan a sneak meeting with City Council to push through their eminent domain plan. They know with Jim present, they would never get away with it so they start a rumor that wolf traps were set in the forest which they made certain would reach the ears of Jim.
With that rumor, Jim immediately leaves for the forest. He had learned to duplicate the howl of a wolf which the pups responded to when he was raising them. He called to them but there was no response as he went deeper and deeper into the woods searching for them to save them from the traps he was led to believe were there, while the developers were finalizing their land grab.
Suddenly, a huge grizzly bear appears, roaring and showing its teeth. In a realistic frighenting scene, the bear viciously attacks Jim, throwing him to the ground and mauling him. A wolf howl is heard followed by another and another. The wolves bearing their teeth charge into the scene, attacking the bear from four different directions driving away the 1000 pound beast, saving Jim's life. Badly injured Jim makes his way back to town.
As the mayor and the city council are ready to make a decision for the developers, Jim comes in the council chambers and with expert legal manuevers and challenges, not only defeats the takeover of the town, but has them arrested for killing Sierra, an endangered species. Seeing the bad guys soundly defeated makes the viewer want to thrust a fist into the air and yell, "YES!"
While all the roles are played competently, the highly trained animals are the stars of the film and actually appear to show emotions. This is how realistic it is. The bear attack itself is worth the price of the film. It is incredible.
Nineteen wolves are used--ranging in age from pups to full grown adults. We see them grow up. Doug Seus, one of the entertainment industry's leading animal trainers with his daughter Sasha, of Wasatch Rocky Mountian Wildlife, did a superb job. Seven trainers were on the set. Representatives of the Humane Society were present (having been invited to be there) during filming to verify that the animals were treated well.
Even though dogs and wolves are first cousins, they are totally different in instincts and behavior. One difference is that dogs want to be with people. Wolves want to be with wolves. The bond between members of the wolf pack is similar to the bond between a dog and its human family.
The wolves are charming. It's about time they got some good press and good representation after being misrepresented and maligned for so many years.
The bear named, Bart, has been in many films. In the attack scene, Doug Seus the trainer doubled for lead actor, Michael Flynn.
Grizzly Adams Productions in association with Flynn-Daines Productions produced Friends For Life, an excellent entry into the feature film field which will be followed by 20 other family films. Watch for notices of the film, DVD release and TV air times.
Rev. Austin Miles, a working pastor-chaplain, is a freelance journalist and commentator whose stories are published world wide.
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