'Seeds of Resiliency,' by Susan Polis Schutz
In less time than many suburban commutes, Susan Polis Schutz's "Seeds of Resiliency" presents a packed lineup of people who bounced back from genocide, cancer, homelessness and physical challenges. This no-frills, 57-minute documentary, sans voice-over, is admirably succinct and often affecting, even if it rarely encompasses the full shape, depth and insights of these stories.
For an explicit attempt at instructive uplift titled after a poem by the filmmaker, "Seeds of Resiliency" is neither very sappy nor hokey. Holocaust survivors do their best to explain how they endured by reminding us that the mind is its own place; an alcoholic denizen of the streets retraces his path from the "Bumfights" video series to becoming an assistant manager of a business. There's also sports: a young man with spina bifida can do double wheelchair back flips worthy of a skateboard meet.
Ms. Polis Schutz isn't afraid to complicate these hope-fueled trajectories, which, as one Holocaust survivor's loss of faith attests, aren't always grounded in religion. The founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving realized that she hadn't grieved properly after her daughter's death by a drunken driver, and one Ugandan's refugee camp horrors still seem heartbreakingly close to the surface.
Although Ms. Polis Schutz has made a few documentaries, it's tempting, with no disrespect intended, to trace her knack for summary here to her past career working with the online greeting-card company Blue Mountain Arts. (Her son, a congressman, makes an appearance.) In any case, "Seeds of Resiliency" could do more with more, but these individuals could fill their own movies and books with their tales.