Seeds of Resiliency


The seeds of resiliency, as defined by the strangely titled documentary Seeds of Resiliency, are composed of horrible circumstances best avoided. Dark times guide people to the better angels of their whatever, and sowing the seeds of resiliency leads to reaping the harvest of perseverance and eating the Thanksgiving dinner of indefatigability. These are things we know from TV, but a reminder now and then is helpful. All this psychic farming is illustrated by 12 stories of survival and recovery, interviews and short studies of remarkable people presented without narration in director Susan Polis Schutz’s film. A Ugandan refugee whose son was killed in prison founds a U.S. relief organization that has saved the lives of hundreds of other African refugees. Candy Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tells the terrible story of losing her daughter and, thanks to the lax drunk-driving laws of the era, watching her killer walk away unpunished. Fanny Lebovitz survived Auschwitz as a young woman and is now a lecturer who teaches her firsthand account of the Holocaust. Another Holocaust survivor, dancer Edith Eger, tells a harrowing story of performing for Josef Mengele: “I closed my eyes and pretended that the music was Tchaikovsky, and I was dancing Romeo and Juliet at the Budapest opera house.” Rufus Hannah’s story is one of the most affecting: An abused homeless man, featured in a series of cretinous videos called Bumfights, he is rescued by a businessman who gives him a job and sees him through alcohol rehab. Nothing in the film is new or particularly revelatory, but it brings these individual firsthand stories to the table.