A Film By: David Heinz
Starring: Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, featuring Krisha Fairchild
Cinema at its most incisive when it finds art imitating reality and leaves the audience with lessons learned in the process. Suffice it to say, “American Folk” is that kind of film. It stars real life folkies Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth as Elliot and Amber, two musicians who are left stranded in L.A. after their flight home to New York is grounded in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York City. Although the two start out as strangers, they decide to form a bond and embark on a cross-country journey in a rusted out, dilapidated 1972 Chevy Van hoping to somehow get across the country safely and securely. The journey is a memorable one, offering opportunity to rediscover a mutual love of music and with it, the healing and solace it provides.
For Rubarth in particular, the film resonated in a very real way.
“The most unexpected part of making this movie for me was how beautifully it reflected life on the road as a musician, but with an added dimension of deep collaboration,” she told Blank. “Joe and I both tour quite a bit solo and what always impacts me most is the depth of connection that can be created between strangers. It’s beautiful and unique and fuels my eagerness to travel more. Being on the road with ‘American Folk’ did a similar thing, but as a traveling team.”
The film not only captures the essence of the shock and chaos that compounded the tragedy of that terrible day, but, more importantly, it provides a sense of redemption — in the songs Elliot and Amber share with one another, in the people they encounter during their , and in the way it transposes mourning with a sense of renewal and through common cause.
The simple strains of the original melodies supplied by Purdy and Rubarth lend a Woody Guthrie-like feel to the proceedings, in ways that both timely and touching. Filmed over 3,500 miles in 14 states, “American Folk” serves as a love letter to the natural beauty of America and to a singular style of music that has always pointed the way forward the through time of tragedy and turmoil.
“With the heart of the film being kindness of strangers, and an old van that broke down the whole way across the country, it became this funny opportunity to connect with so many beautiful and unexpected people along the way,” Rubarth reflects.
“American Folk” will be screened during the Opening Night of the Scruffy City Film Festival, taking place on Thursday, July 26 at 7pm at Central Cinema.