Preview: Antwone Fisher Directs 'This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr' (Watch A Clip)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 23, 2012 4:40 PM
7 Comments
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I was just alerted to this new feature-length documentary from Antwone Fisher - yes, that Antwone Fisher, who was the subject of the acclaimed Denzel Washington-directed, Derek Luke starrer that bears his name.

The feature doc is titled This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr, and it centers on Leon T. Garr, born March 23, 1914, in Ruston, Louisiana, who, as the film's synopsis reads...

... endured and witnessed unspeakable horrors as a young man growing up in America's deep south. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Mr. Garr migrated to Los Angeles, CA. With a third grade education, he entered the construction business and amassed millions, which he used to help enrich others. At the age of seventy six, Mr. Garr purchased a failed savings and loan, and transformed it into Founders National Bank. Mr. Garr became Chairman Garr, and with that, Founders Bank became the only National Bank owned by an African American west of the Mississippi. His documentary is a rich American tale of a driven man who, in his own words, tells of his life's journey through nearly one hundred years of America's most triumphant and tragic times.

Fascinating story, right? I'd say that, along with the documentary feature, Mr Garr's life story could also inspire a scripted feature-length film. 

In addition to directing the doc, Antwone Fisher also shot, produced, and edited the film; basically, he did it all!

According to Fisher, he and Garr worked together on the project, daily, for over a year. From the press kit, in his words:

Our routine was I would pick him up from his home and bring him to my house where we would spend each day talking for hours about his life and experiences, the places he’s traveled and the people he knew. While we were there as professionals to interview for the documentary and our friendship was new, talking with Mr. Garr was like sitting with someone I had always known who had ninety-nine years of stories, emotions and history to share and the cameras just happened to be there to witness. In fact, the cameras, at times, seemed like a third wheel, an interruption of a very good conversation about the lessons of life and business and the history of our people. Some days, I wished I were in the stories with him and other days, I was glad I wasn’t because I do not know if I am made of the stuff of which one must be made in order to endure being African American during various times of which Mr. Garr spoke.

And as for why he wore so many hats, Fisher said noted the length of time it took to make the film, as well as the budget, as factors in that decision; adding that he didn't cry about doing the work, and that the process was actually fun!

The film premiered earlier this year at the Pan African Film Festival - a festival we actually covered; but, for some inexplicable reason, completely missed! So I'm really glad that Mr Fisher reached out and alerted us to the film, which isn't yet commercially available, but will sooner than later.

And once we have release info, we'll post it here, certainly.

In the meantime, watch a clip from the film below:

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7 Comments

  • Hilda Bridget Turner | December 29, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    Watching Mr. Garr is like watching my Grand dad who was born in 1998. I would hear the old stories. Life for a colored man during the 1920's 30's and 40's in the racist state of South Carolina are stories that need to be documented and held like precious gold in a glass case, this is our history, our heritage, I commend Mr. Fisher for a job well done, keep on doing what you're doing! Author Hilda Bridget Turner

  • Hilda Bridget Turner | December 30, 2012 12:43 PM

    Sorry on my grandfather's birth year he was born in 1898 (correction)

  • Tamara | November 26, 2012 3:07 PMReply

    Would love to see this. That emigrating from the south to work in los angeles/cali is something a lot of elders i know did...but without the millions made, of course. unfortunately.

  • Winston | November 24, 2012 5:13 PMReply

    This is the role Jay-Z was destined to play. The resemblance is uncanny.

  • Micah | November 23, 2012 9:21 PMReply

    This is the amazing kind of story I wish more kids could hear!

  • D.C. Kirkwood | November 23, 2012 7:18 PMReply

    Thanks for posting whether it's late or not. This is so inspiring. Elderly people always have so much wisdom to share if only we would listen. His advice can save people alot of debt and financial grief. Plus he looks mighty sharp driving around in that nice big car which Im sure he owns. (smile)

  • JMac | November 23, 2012 5:38 PMReply

    Can really relate to this. Two thumbs up!

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