Jaime Longhi, a Connecticut-based former
attorney Managing Partner of a law firm turned documentary filmmaker who was moved by the Memorial Day 2011 death of Raymond Zack at an Alameda beach, is pursuing local screening opportunities for his 30-minute documentary on the incident.
The documentary has already screened at the Global Peace Film Festival in Orlando, Florida, the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, and the IndieFest in La Jolla, California, where it received an Award of Recognition in the Short Documentary category.
Skye Kelly, director, Awareness Film Festival, told Action Alameda News, “the film’s subject is hard to believe, that something like this could happen and no one would just step up for a life. The film doesn’t really give answers; It creates more questions into our morality, red tape and how we respond to the mentally ill. It was an important film to screen as a memorial to Raymond Zack and an eye opener to what could occur again if we don’t show our displeasure with what happened in his case.”
Michael McLeod, a freelance writer and adjunct professor at Rollins College in Florida, who saw the documentary in Orlando, wrote to Action Alameda News, “I saw several films during the festival here and Shallow Waters was by far the most moving documentary among them – and trust me, given that this festival consisted of nothing but compelling stories about the horrors of war, and the terrible struggles against racism and sexism and environmental catastrophes, and all the other struggles human beings tend to wrestle with, that’s high praise.
“I think what makes the film so compelling is that it brings up so many issues: our ethical responsibility to each other; the many ways in which our bureaucracies can fail us; our mistrust — our well-founded mistrust — of the community services that are supposed to be protecting us.
“If there is one thing I noticed about how people responded to this film, one question that stood out for everybody, it’s this. We all — every single one of us — walked out of that documentary pondering the most important question of all that is posed by that incident: what would I have done? That includes me.”
Kelly Devine, artistic director of the Global Peace Film Festival, said of the film, “Shallow Waters exposes the paucity of public policy and social networks in contemporary American life, and it does so with great respect for both the subjects of the film and those who would view it. Resources for the mentally ill have been stripped leaving law enforcement and other emergency services as the primary interface for the mentally ill in this country – a duty for which they have no training. Few resources pertain to ordinary citizens seeking to aid their fellows and the stigma surrounding mental health issues persists doing damage to those suffering and the public at large. This film is an indictment, but it is also a call to action which should lead to a soul-searching moment for any community watching.”
Filmed locally in Alameda with production taking four years, the documentary includes background footage from Zack’s family, and chronicles the events on Memorial Day, 2011, which culminated in the man’s death on Crown Memorial State Beach.
Longhi hopes to screen his film at one of the historic theaters in Alameda, and hold a discussion forum post-screening.