Two small independent films opened up in New York this week that are both labors of love based on the dysfunctional fathers of the film-makers. One is “Touching Home” with Ed Harris as an alcoholic father of twin sons who struggles with addictions and homelessness. The other is “Daddy Longlegs,” the story of a mentally unstable father of two young boys played by Ronald Bronstein.
Both films were made by a pair of brothers about their own fathers. “Daddy Longlegs” was written, edited, and directed by Josh and Benny Safdie; Josh was also co-cinematographer. Identical twins Logan and Noah Miller wrote, produced, and directed “Touching Home” and play themselves. They have described in interviews the improbable process that took them from writing a script to insisting that Ed Harris read it because he was the only one who could play the part to assembling a team of Oscar-nominated and award-winning crew.
Both films are frank and unsentimental but made from a spirit of understanding and forgiveness, touching in part because the telling of the stories seems to be a part of the healing process. I love the way these two sets of brothers were so passionate about telling their fathers’ stories and I love the way Harris and Bronstein paid them and their fathers the respect of telling the stories with compassion but without compromise. I hope both films get a broader release and I hope that right now other sons and daughters are writing scripts and pestering actors to share their own stories.