Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Veteran Committed to Helping the People of Vietnam

For the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hofstra University assistant professor Carlo Gennarelli put together the TV broadcast documentary The Great Zamperini. The 40-minute profile of a 1936 American Olympian who became a World War II POW earned its maker an Emmy and was turned into the bestselling book Unbroken.

Now comes a full-length documentary feature from Gennarelli, about another unconventional war hero. Screening Saturday June 2nd at the 2012 Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival, Ordinary Joe has won awards so far at just about every film festival where it has screened. The movie follows retired Long Island roofer and one-time Vietnam medic Joe Sciacca on another one of his humanitarian trips to the East Asian country.

After debuting last fall at Hofstra, Ordinary Joe has snagged Best Documentary prizes at events held in Fort Myers, Winnipeg and LA. Later this summer, on July 7th, it is slated to “come home” via a screening at the Long Island International Film Expo. From the website's “Who is Joe?” page:

Stationed in a field hospital in the seaside town of Nha Trang, Sciacca witnessed the ravages of war without having to actively participate in it. It exposed him to people and experiences that would shape the rest of his life...
In the late 1990's, after the U.S. normalized relations with Vietnam, Joe and his wife Cathy planned to travel there for a vacation and possibly re-encounter some of Joe's acquaintances from the past. But instead he meet new people, local residents who introduced him to an abundance of needy Vietnamese. Joe found a new purpose to his life. Over a twelve-year period, Joe has annually returned and expanded those he visits from six people to 600, each year adding more "friends" to the list.

Gennarelli collaborated on the documentary with producer and cinematographer Bill Day, a journalism and film B.A./Master's graduate from UCLA. For a list of some of the director's other credits, click here.

[Ordinary Joe]

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