Thanks to the efforts of two local men, Joe Gervais and Joao Barbosa, Islanders have two opportunities to see an independent film at the Capawock Theatre. “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry” – not commercially distributed but being shown by church and other civic groups nationwide – screens April 11 and 16 under the auspices of the mens’ new organization, Special Events M.V.
Although not a Hollywood film, the acting and production values are on a par with full-scale theatrical releases. The movie features 70s sitcom star Gavin MacLeod as a 75-year-old widower who helps guide a fatherless youngster (Jansen Panettiere, younger brother of Hayden Panettiere) and his friends through the perils of adolescence. Drawing both from passages in the Bible and from his own experience, he demonstrates practical, honorable ways to deal with bullies, crushes, an unfriendly neighbor (Robert Guillaume), and other unavoidable traumas in life.
Set in a small town in 1970, the movie is full of authentic period touches that baby boomers will enjoy, while teens and kids can relate to the timeless travails of growing up. The situations are a little oversimplified, but the film does a nice job of avoiding the tendency to wrap things up predictably. Mr. Sperry’s biggest secret, revealed at the very end, comes as a complete surprise and provides the emotional highlight of the film.
“It has a large age span that it will appeal to,” Mr. Gervais says. “Most of us can understand the dynamics of being 12 years old. It’s the type of film that just makes you feel good.”
Mr. Gervais and Mr. Barbosa are longtime friends who have pooled their resources to found the new organization in order to promote the two screenings. Although the movie will be the first event for them, the men hope to continue the cooperative efforts of Island churches and others to organize fundraisers and other events under Special Events M.V.
Mr. Barbosa originally brought “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry” to the attention of Mr. Gervais after he attended a screening in Framingham with his wife and teenaged kids.
“We found the movie really inspirational. I think everyone there was crying at the end,” Mr. Barbosa says.
Mr. Gervais recently organized a successful fundraiser for Haiti and thought that a sponsoring body for future projects was in order. The two men are considering screening other movies and holding fundraisers for worthy causes. Mr. Gervais, who owns Tashmoo Insurance, emphasizes the advantages of having the organization in place.
“If a special event came along, we could easily mobilized in response to it,” he says. He notes that he is accumulating a mailing list and has formed affiliations for the upcoming screenings with seven island churches.
Mr. Barbosa is the founder and minister of the newly established Mission Calvary Church on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. Previously, he was involved with the World Revival Church, which he helped to build.
“My plan is to serve the community in different ways – not only through the church itself,” Mr. Barbosa says. “We want to help people in Haiti and others in need.” He and Mr. Gervais, who is a member of the Vineyard Assembly of God, also want to help spread their message to the community at large, and they hope that the movie will be their first step along this path.
“The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry” 4:15 pm, Sunday, April 11 and 7:30 pm, Friday, April 16, Capawock Theatre, Vineyard Haven. Hosted by Special Events MV. specialeventsmv.webs.com.