Greenville native, Jeff Sumerel, has produced and directed film works for the past 25 years. One of his recent films, "To My Great Chagrin: The Unbelievable Life of Brother Theodore" premiered at the Opening Night at The Museum of Modern Art's Fortnight Documentary Series. While producing that film, Sumerel was introduced to Stephen Fybish, who was to merely be another subject providing insights about Brother Theodore.
Little did Sumerel know that he had inadvertently stumbled onto his next film.
One that brings to question: What is the value of a long-lasting friendship? When does a lifestyle choice become a threat to oneself? What defines contentment? At what point does support or empathy become enabling?
Since that first meeting with Stephen Fybish, Sumerel spent the next 3 years to capture over 15 hours of intensive, humorous, and unsettling footage. The soul-searching, entertaining story that unfolded, convinced Sumerel to fully develop the project into a feature-length documentary - "It Just So Happens".
Although Stephen Fybish is the protagonist in "It Just So Happens", another central character is Jack Finelli, a friend Stephen has known since the fifth grade. As the two of them struggle and maneuver through Stephen's crisis, their interactions and exchanges escalate with a genuine dramatic and poetic tone. And their extreme candidness and touching intimacy present the themes of understanding, tolerance, and acceptance throughout the story. And also make for some extremely funny scenes.
Personal documentaries such as "It Just So Happens", often leave the audience wondering what the subjects themselves felt about the film; how accurate was the interpretation of the people and events? With that in mind, an unusual and provocative layer to this film is that it includes an epilogue that has Stephen and Jack giving their impression of the film itself. Both men agreed to watch the final locked edit of the film, knowing that no revisions or changes would be made. They shared their thoughts and impressions of whether or not they were fairly and properly represented. And how the film may effect their future.
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