Documentary Film Review: The Starfish Throwers

starfish throwers

I have been excitedly waiting for a chance to share my review of this film! It just finally became available on video, so I thought I would post about it now that you can track it down and see it for yourselves!

Once upon a time, a man stepped out onto the beach and noticed a little girl on the sand throwing starfish into the water. He walked up to her and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Throwing the starfish back into the sea,” she replied.

The man shook his head at the girl’s naivete, “Every day the tide washes in thousands of starfish to dry out and die on the beach. You throw a few back today and tomorrow there will be more. You cannot possibly make a difference.”

As she picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean, the girl replied, “I made a difference for that one.”

The Starfish Throwers is a documentary film that chronicles the lives of three people who, like the girl in the old story, have decided that even if they cannot do it all, they’re going to do something. The subjects are: a teenage girl named Katie who gardens to feed the needy, a retired teacher named Allan who makes and delivers thousands of sandwiches to the hungry in Minneapolis every night, and a five-star chef in India, Narayanan, who walks away from his successful career to care for the “untouchables” in his culture’s caste system. I liked the subjects they chose because the film doesn’t just focus on the third world, but looks at people working for change in the American South and North, as well as India. The subjects vary in age, gender, and financial background. None of them were professionals in a non-profit, and their organizations don’t have big budgets or famous supporters. They are simply three average people who are each driven from within to do what they can for the hungry and poor. And they face challenges. Katie’s family has hit some financial snags and she keeps getting discouraging emails from people who think she’s too young and should let grownups handle the needy while she has a more typical time being a teenager. Allan is forced to take some time off to be treated for prostate cancer. Narayanan has the whole caste system against him, and his own family struggles to understand why he would “throw away” his career as a professional chef to care for the destitute.

So obviously you guys know that this topic is my passion as well. A few months ago the trailer for this movie was going around on Facebook. I loved the trailer and it led me to the film’s website. There I saw a listing of places where you could see the film, and one of them was here in Minneapolis. I talked my family into going out that night for dinner and a documentary, and it ended up being one of the best family outings we’ve done. The film was played at Casket Cinema, a little art studio in an old brick building full of free-spirited artists (just so you know, the name isn’t as creepy as it sounds. The old building is the Casket Arts building, named for whatever business built it way back when. There are no caskets involved.) Just being there awakened my old passion to create. The artist who shows the films had filled his studio with mismatched furniture and projected the film on a big white wall. He provided free popcorn and took up a collection to pay for the film.

The movie definitely lived up to my expectations. I was touched and inspired. At the end of the film, the host introduced the director, Jesse Roesler, who happens to be from the Minneapolis area, and to Allan, one of the film’s subjects. It was terrific to be able to ask questions and hear more from the people behind the documentary. Casket Cinema collected non-perishable food at the gathering, and the filmmakers opted not to charge for that particular showing so that the collection could go to Mark’s nonprofit, Minneapolis Recreation Development. The film sparked deep conversations in my family, and J asked if we could go back to see more documentaries at the studio/theater.

I highly recommend this film. It is available to purchase on dvd, though I do not believe it is available on Amazon Prime or Netflix (Yet – I hope it will be eventually). I’m attaching the trailer, and some links so you can visit the film’s website and Facebook page, as well as the websites of the three non-profits chronicled in the film.

The Starfish Throwers (website for the movie) – www.thestarfishthrowers.com (The Starfish Throwers – Facebook)

Katie’s Krops – www.katieskrops.com
Minneapolis Recreation Development – www.363days.org
Akshaya Trust – www.akshayatrust.org

Casket Cinema – www.casketcinema.com (Casket Cinema – Facebook)

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