Film: David and Me

A documentary on David McCallum’s wrongful conviction will be premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival and will no doubt be played in at least one and maybe two New York Festivals.  Actually, the film is only secondarily about the wrongful conviction and primarily about the relationship between McCallum and his young friend on the outside, Ray Klonsky. Filmmakers Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy draw a stunning and sympathetic portrait of McCallum, as a thoughtful, genuine and emotionally honest human being. The late Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter plays a significant role in the film and, as McCallum’s representative, has played a large role in attempting to free this man imprisoned for more than twenty-eight years.

McCallum, at Ray’s father’s request, served initially as a mentor to the young man who was getting into trouble in the community. His experience as an incarcerated man opened Ray’s eyes to the almost endless opportunities that he had in his own life and was in the process of throwing away. As the friendship grew, Ray became involved in helping to free his new found friend from prison.

The film also portrays the McCallum family, at least that portion of it who remain at  home, i.e. his 77 year old mother, his sister, Mattie, Mattie’s two children (David’s niece and nephew, and, amazingly, his 52 year old sister, Ella. Ella is severely disabled, having extreme cerebral palsy and having been born without a spine. The family was told that, at the outside, she would live to thirteen years of age. Mrs. McCallum has had to endure so much and yet remains steadfast in her beliefs.

David and Me is multi-layered. The theme of the film is the power of relationships of all sorts, how one person can have a profound effect on the life of another, how the goodness of people can transcend the evil that befalls them. McCallum comes off as a thoughtful and deeply emotional man whose fate still hangs in the balance of a very flawed justice system.

Premiered at Hot Docs (Toronto) on Sunday April 27th. Played to four capacity houses and was voted 11th out of 197 in the audience choice award. On TVO, June 4th; American premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival (the Quad) on June 20th at 7 p.m.