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From a film studio exec…

This comes from a fellow filmmaker, fan and now friend who recently saw the film:

Dear Hank,
Brianna may have told you I’d be writing. My wife and I are very regular customers at R+D and have become quite fond of your daughter over the years. I don’t need to tell you that she is a very bright and warm person with a great spirit. Having now seen FIVE FRIENDS, I can see from where that great spirit comes. Brianna was kind enough to lend me the film and I was impressed. I am fifty-eight and an independent film producer with a long history of having been a creative executive in the film business at the studio level. If a man needs to have five good friends at the end of his life in order to claim success, I am five short. Which is, of course, the power of the film. A wake up call, I suppose. It’s not too late, I’m hoping. If the intent of the film was to illuminate the importance of cultivating male friendship, then it was a success for me. I’m motivated. Of course it is also a portrait of a man. As the subject, you have to proud. You are a wise and thoughtful man and it was generous of you to share yourself with those of us who have the opportunity to see FIVE FRIENDS. Deepest congratulations on the excellent journey you’ve taken. And my congratulations also to the filmmaker who knows what he’s doing.

Curtis Burch

Thanks so much for the kind words Curtis!


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National Association of Social Workers

We were invited to screen the film and have a workshop at the National Association of Social Workers conference in April in CT.  Here is what they had to say about the film:

The Evaluations of the Five Friends Workshop at the National Association of Social Workers/Connecticut Chapter Conference – April 20, 2012

Participant Responses included; Doctoral Students, Retired Social Workers, Licensed Social Workers, Practicing Masters of Social Work, PH.D Professors and Hospital Clinicians

1. If you had to give this training a grade, what would it be –  100% responded A+ with some giving the workshop an A++

Comments: Excellent; In depth look at men’s intimacy; Totally different workshop; Excellent, moving; generated so much to think about and loved this workshop

2. (a) I have acquired new knowledge – 100% yes;

(b) I have acquired new techniques and skills – 90% yes;

(c) I anticipate using knowledge gained from this program in my work/practice – 90% yes

3. I would like the trainer (Hank Mandel, MSW) to know that: It was a courageous topic and wonderful; Thank you, It made me smile – courage, strength, tenderness,      humanness; It was brilliant!; Your honesty and courage is much appreciated; Sharing the film has made a difference; I loved the film -Thank You!!; Use the film as a basis for weekend training for all folks to open this discussion; How very much more I got from this workshop than I had anticipated. Thank you!; Wonderful film, How brave! How courageous to explore relationships like this; Would love to see another film featuring inner city boys and their relationships with their father. Probably would need to be shorter. Also girls and their fathers.

4. What recommendations, if any, would you have for improving this workshop in the future? No recommendations – it was perfect; None – Very powerful; Can’t think of any – the film speaks for itself; Follow-up with a documentary on Emmit the baby, ie. young boy – issues adolescents; Do not turn the lights back on until the film is over; Thank you – keep up the great work; the rest of the answers to this question were blanks.

5. The instructor’s (Hank Mandel) materials were presented in a clear and organized fashion. 100% response of “completely”

It was an amazing experience with 100% of the participants buying Five Friends materials (DVD and Workbook) to use in the future.

Thanks NASW, we love you too!


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A wonderful post from St. James Church…

We had a great screening last Wednesday for St. James Church in Stratford, CT.  Thanks to Alex Zamachaj for the warm response from his experience:

This past Thursday I watched a movie with 65 other men about male relationships. Now don’t go building any opinions yet, let me explain. The movie night was sponsored by the men’s group at my church. Yet, despite the fact that all the men who gathered were religious, the movie was not. The sole purpose of the movie was to delve into male relationships and society’s perceptions of them versus what male relationships really look like or could look like. Now your probably thinking, what do men need to know about male relationships? Personally, I feel men have a lot to learn about what a male friendship looks like. But then again, that is my personal opinion that may or may not be shared by other men out there. The movie itself is relatively new and is called “Five Friends” by Hank Mandel. (Check out the trailer here) So that no one is left in the dark, let me give you a very brief synopsis of the movie. As a documentary, the movie goes into Hank’s life and looks at five male friendships that he has. It talks about the intimacy that Hank has with these other men and how each of their lives benefits from the friendship. Now I used the word intimacy, scary for most men, yet I use it only in the sense of revealing one’s life, one’s issues, one’s concerns with another. In an effort to get you to check out the trailer, I will end my synopsis there. (There is a reason I am not a film critic). Yet, despite the short synopsis, I feel I have given enough information that the rest of what I talk about should make sense. If it doesn’t, check out the trailer.

There are a lot of aspects about the movie that I could delve into and talk about and probably will over the course of a few weeks. What I wanted to talk about today was a comment that was made by one of the men after the movie finished. This young man, probably about my age in the military, asked if there were plans to make a movie about the friendships or bonds between men in the military. He asked this because he couldn’t formulate a friendship outside the military as strong as he could with men in the military. I started thinking about this and drawing connections with the movie. One of the themes that the movie talks about as being integral in any deep relationship between men is trust. There must be a sense of trust between two people if their relationship is to gain any kind of substance. If we don’t trust someone else, how can we talk honestly with them about our lives, our concerns, our excitement? In short, we can’t. If you think about the military, they are trained to trust each other, to place their lives in someone else’s hands, to depend utterly on the men (and women) they are in service with. The trust that men in the military have with each other goes above and beyond the trust that almost anyone else ever experiences. The majority of the population never has to place their life in someone else’s hands or depend upon someone else to save them or watch over them to the extent that people in the military do. It is most likely because of this deep seated trust that there is such a strong bond between people in the military, especially between those who serve in the same unit. For the majority of us, trust is fleeting, hard to earn, and easy to break. Out of everything the military does, perhaps the one thing that I have just recently come to appreciate is their ability to forge such a strong bond between people; based on trust. No wonder it is hard for this man to build friendships as strong as the one’s he has with his fellow soldiers. If he can’t trust someone else with his life, how can he trust them with simple information about himself? He probably feels that he can’t.

We could all do with a little more trust, especially men. To take this idea and apply it in a broader sense to men, lets look at society and what society expect in terms of trust. If you watch the news or listen to the radio, you have probably all heard about the Homeland Security saying, “If you see something, say something”. (I also talked briefly about this Monday). The whole campaign by Homeland Security is built on eliminating trust. We are not supposed to trust anybody or anything anymore, but rather report them if they look suspicious. It goes beyond that, however, to the media and persistent relaying of incidents that degrade any trust we might have for someone else. How are we supposed to move past this issue of lack of trust in society and build trust between one another? Its not easy, in fact, it is probably one of the most difficult things we will do in our lifetimes, build trust between us and someone else. Some of us are able to trust others without question, yet I feel these people are few and far between as compared to the majority. For most of us, it takes time and effort to expose our inner feelings and desires to someone else, especially man to man. For many men, it never happens and they live their lives closed and without any meaningful male relationships. I personally have a few friends that I can claim I am intimate with, that I can claim I can tell anything and have no worries about how they will take it or respond in kind. How many friends do you have that you can say that about? Maybe its time for men to shed their facade of toughness and imperviousness and seek to trust other men with their feelings and emotions. I know, I know, men are not supposed to have feelings and emotions, but I have news for you; they do and they are not going away. Let us all work on trust this week and see if we can’t build a level of trust between us and someone else that will allow us to truly deepen a friendship with them.

Alex’s Blog here


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Recent News
Men Engage Global Symposium 2014 – New Delhi, India

Five Friends has been selected to screen in New Delhi, India for the 2nd Annual Men Engage Global Symposium 2014.  Seventy films have been selected for the Symposium’s global film festival on masculinities specially curated by the International Association of Women … Continue reading

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