Life Lessons: What’s the Worth of a Teacher?

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A Brief Commentary of the film, “Quest
A Film by Santiago Rizzo
by John Bennison, Mountain Shadow Director

Brief Synopsis: BASED ON A TRUE STORY IN HONOR OF TIM MOELLERING, COACH AND TEACHER - “Mills” was an abused 12 year old graffiti addict who is losing faith in integrity. Tim Moellering was a humble middle school teacher and football coach in Berkeley, who believed that there is no such thing as a bad kid, only a bad situation. The two formed an uneasy friendship when Tim recognized Mill’s unhealthy behavior was really a cry for help. Keeping his promise, Tim was willing to sacrifice his reputation, job and relationships in order to win the child’s trust. But Mills couldn't trust until he learned to trust his struggle first. Drama - 85 min

COMMENTARY REVIEW: Life lessons? Here are two of them that are pretty common.

First: There comes a time when most of us realize we didn’t make it all on our own. At some point, someone reached out, lent a hand, and consequently shaped and influenced who we became.  If asked, everyone can probably name a teacher, or two, or three, who did more than merely educate. They were mentors in life by their example, principles and ideals.

Second: Everyone has at least one good story in them to tell. It then becomes a matter of finding the best medium for storytelling. Sometimes it takes the form of a poem or painting, a book, or this most effective modern form, film. That’s when a common experience can become exceptional in the telling of it. In this regard, Santiago Rizzo’s “QUEST” succeeds.

Just how does a first-time filmmaker successfully tell a compelling story? A good script and fine actors can certainly help.  But just as I’ve suggested in the review of last month’s film (“A Fantastic Woman”), the story – even if it were a fictional story – has to ring true. It has to persuasively convey something that is genuinely authentic and profound about our human story. “Quest” does that.

The times in which we now find our selves has teachers abandoning the classroom to go on strike and march by the tens of thousands on state capitals; demanding better pay and benefits, as well as more resources for their task of shaping the youth placed in their charge. News cameras pan the throngs of a sea of nameless faces.  Occasionally, one educator is pulled from the crowd and interviewed. No matter what is asked or answered with regard to the reporter’s question, the underling issue and challenge is always about the worth of such key life mentors.

In some ways, the story of a young rebel growing up on those Berkeley streets might seem a a world away from the suburban Walnut Creek venue where our audiences will enjoy viewing this film.  In actuality, we know it’s only a scant fifteen miles away; and practically right in our own backyard.

That, and because “Quest” is is a common, shared story. jb

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