The documentary “CHARGED” starts by recreating getting electrocuted and somehow hiking to find help. Subtitled “The Eduardo Garcia Story,” the film includes footage that his friend Jennifer Jane shot during his 50 days in the hospital. It gave them something to do while he was dealing with things like having a big chunk of his chest removed and having his left hand amputated.
Jennifer stopped being his girlfriend before the accident. The film explains why. Jennifer’s devotion as a friend deepens the satisfaction of this story.
Can Eduardo be a professional chef and an avid outdoorsman as he was before the accident? Such challenges accompany his journey to becoming a better person. You’d expect this to be a regular commercial film, “based on a true story” style. How great it is to see the actual remarkable person on screen.
You like recovery stories, stories about disabled people who aren’t? This one shines as an example. His gumption as an athlete offers a fresh angle to the adventure side of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. How about all the popular TV chef shows? This film touches that realm through a unique filter.
Director Phil Baribeau won the “Most Inspiring Adventure” award two years ago at the Wild & Scenic. “Unbranded” (about cowboys and wild horses on a 3000-mile trek) was his first feature length documentary. Baribeau has tapped a most inspiring chord again.
-----Distilled from a conversation with the director, Phillip Baribeau-----
Chuck Jaffee: How do you view this story?
Phillip Baribeau: It’s a traditional survival story, but it’s a different kind of a love story. Eduardo and Jen were only still together as friends. It’s a celebration of a friendship.
CJ: What was the biggest challenge making the film?
PB: Diving into someone’s personal life: me being a fly on the wall with them being vulnerable, with revealing things they might not want to reveal. It takes time and trust. When he went back to see the doctors who saved him, they said that they need [success stories like Eduardo’s]. That’s when Ed knew that telling his story would help others.
CJ: What about challenges editing?
PB: Tony Hale, the editor, was willing to come from Brooklyn to Bozeman to work side by side on 400 hours of film. There were so many story lines. How to weave them together? If it didn’t fit Eduardo’s journey and transformation, we cut it. We got down to a four-hour cut, then three. [finally, 87 minutes] We listened to our test audiences.
CJ: What is it about Eduardo’s smile?
PB: Yes, it’s infectious. The way he approaches life, with all its struggles, even leading up to his injury. It’s the major reason he survived.
CJ: And what is it about Jennifer’s full-on devotion?
PB: Before Eduardo’s injury they were struggling but still business partners. People ask why would she come back. She says in the film, “You love who you love.” Jennifer was happy with how the story was told.