Remember when Greg Mortenson came to town last autumn with his tales of building schools in the remote mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan? He mesmerized crowds all over town with his stories and finally filled Whalen Gymnasium with people who had admired his book Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time and wanted to hear more.That audience also will be inspired and moved by "Sons of Lwala," a documentary about two Kenyan men who promised their father who was dying of AIDS that they would build a clinic in their tiny, remote village.
The film won three awards at the National Film Festival last year, and this year it won the Dartmouth Martin Luther King Social Justice Award for Emerging Leadership.
The film came about by accident when director Barry Simmons, then a television reporter in Nashville, encountered the film's protagonists, Fred and Milton Ochieng, by accident. When he heard they were going to build a hospital by themselves, Simmons put his life on hold to help them and make the film.
The Ochiengs were medical students at that time.
Earlier, after Milton Ochieng won a scholarship to study medicine in the U.S., the people in his village gathered and sold their chickens and cows to fund his $900 plane ticket.
Fred Ochieng followed his brother to medical school in the U.S., and the two set out to build the clinic with their own hands.
The film of their efforts and the unexpected support that poured forth is penny plain in technique, as it should be. No artful devices are needed to highlight the brothers and their dedication, including the opening of the clinic in 2007.
Even then, though, it's no fairy tale.
Milton is shown after the clinic opens saying, "You see some really complicated things. We don't have a CT scanner. This is really scary. Oh man, I need drugs."
And what's next? The brothers want to build more clinics.
Perhaps Durango filmgoers will feel the same generous impulse toward them that they showed to Mortenson. I wouldn't bet against it.