Review: ‘BECOMING BULLETPROOF’ is a touching and insightful documentary.

Bulletproof posterI went to camp as a kid. It was pretty typical; arts & crafts, team sports, theater, and camp songs. I also remember being integrated with a few kids who has Down syndrome. As a little kid, this was pretty foreign to me, but as I attended high school, some of these same kids were now in my art classes. My mother’s second major in college, I would come to find out, was special education. As time passed and I worked in more and more private pre-schools, I was directly exposed, now as an educator, to a challenging world I had mostly experienced as an outsider. But… nothing was ever akin to the extraordinary summers that must occur each year at Zeno Mountain Farm. Becoming Bulletproof stillZeno Mountain Farm has an annual film camp in L.A. in which people with and without disabilities come together to make a full pledged, originally created motion picture. Run by The Halby’s (Will, Peter, Ila, and Vanessa Halby) their 2012 movie had a solid script and actual locations. Bulletproof is a Western, complete with authentic wardrobe, saloon brawls, showdowns at the poker table, and evil villains. It’s the fruit of ideals that two brothers and their wives put into action through an inclusive film project they run in Hollywood every year at Zeno Mountain. For them, Bulletproof isn’t about actors’ limitations, “It’s all about making an awesome movie, not a statement.”Jeremy Becoming Bulletproof  A.J. Murray, 32, (pictured below) from Atlanta, has cerebral palsy and plays the town’s mayor. Jeremy Vest, 28, (pictured above) born with Williams Syndrome, plays the film’s hero, Bulletproof Jackson. Zach Gottsagen, 29, who has Down syndrome, plays the evil Grim. Judy Moscariello, 53, who also has cerebral palsy, plays a woman shattered by her lover’s murder. Weaving between 1890s period drama and present-day action, Bulletproof’s snaking plot requires mastering lines, pushing through take after take, and showing up on time in costume. A.J. Becoming BulletproofThe bonds built with care and friendship are lifelong. Camp is the only place where no one is being paid to be there. It’s the perfect social and emotional outlet for everyone involved. This eclectic group of actors, both disabled and able bodied, lights up the screen. We delve into everyone’s different disabilities through home visits prior to camp and intimate sit downs with not only the campers but with their regular caregivers when camp is not in session. The everyday struggles of our players are eye opening for the audience, never crossing the line into sappy or guilt stricken. It’s a beautiful balance in structure and education.unnamed (5)Zeno’s able bodied campers and creators are an amazing group of people. They have genuine intentions and huge hearts, learning everyday where their own shortcomings play into their own lives. Also, let it be clear, this is a professional shoot. The equipment is top notch, the shots are stunning, everything from the music to the editing should be applauded. The dialogue is insightful and funny. Everyone is perfectly cast. I definitely want to see the final cut of Bulletproof, fingers crossed for a DVD. For now, Becoming Bulletproof will do just fine.

BECOMING BULLETPROOF is the award winning inspiring story of a group of talented people with disabilities from across America who come together at Zeno Mountain Farm to take part in the making of a ambitious indie film production entitled Bulletproof.

 

OPENING IN THEATERS  

SEPTEMBER 25  NEW YORK – IFC CENTER  

OCTOBER 2  LOS ANGELES – LAEMMLE ROYAL  

AND OTHER CITIES TO FOLLOW

RUNNING TIME: 81 MINUTES – THIS FILM IS NOT RATED

 

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.