Award-winning filmmaker, James Rutenbeck, finally sees the light of national coverage for his independent film, Scenes From A Parish airing on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” The documentary film is about St. Patrick’s Parish in Lawrence, MA and the changing faces of a community that once was predominantly Irish American and is now divided. Rutenbeck captured the truth of issues not only happening at this neighborhood church but at parishes across the country that are dealing with a divided community, homelessness, and drugs. Father Paul O’Brien, the head pastor at St. Patrick’s Parish, desperately wants to unite its community and isn’t giving up–even with some disagreement from community members. The film shadows nine different lives in the community, including Father O’Brien’s. Creatively, Rutenbeck was able to capture the distresses these individuals faced outside the walls of the parish.
“I was looking for a new challenge in my filmmaking career,” Rutenbeck told us, “I wanted to tell a story through many stories in the community. I wanted to connect with people I may have not connected with before.
Rutenbeck said that when he first started filming he thought it was only going to take a year, but as the stories were unfolding, Rutenbeck wanted his own understanding of what was happening in this community. They never had enough money to work on the film full time, so it took 4 years to finish.
Although this will be the first national exposure the film has received it certainly has not been sitting on a pew. Last April it ran at the Museum of Fine Arts for a week and also has been shown at two film festivals even one right here in Boston. But finally after months of waiting, it’s getting the light it deserves.
“Many fine filmmakers don’t get the chance to be exposed at a national level,” Rutenbeck told HEC, “I am very grateful and excited.”
For more on the film, visit the Scenes From A Parish website. There you can watch clips and read more about Rutenbeck and the making of the film. Watch the film on PBS on December 29th at 10pm and January 3rd at 9pm. If you think this may be a good stocking stuffer, you can purchase the film at neoflex. We look forward to watching this inspirational film on its debut.