Film: The Human Experience

 The Human Experience was premiered at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, central London,  last Friday.  Director Charles Kinnane and leads Jeffrey Azzize and Michael Campo took a Q&A session with the audience afterwards.

This full length documentary from Grassroots Films has already won 27 awards including the Grand Jury Award at the Mexico International Film Festival and Best Humanitarian Film at the Sedona International Film Festival.  It is a brave, thoughtful, complex, big-hearted,  extraordinary piece of work.

Starting out at the St Francis House in Brooklyn, a home for young men run by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal,  the movie follows two young men about 20 years old,  who set out on a crash course odyssey in search of the answers to the burning questions: Who am I? Who is Man? Why do we search for meaning?

Their journey begins as they live in sub-zero temperatures with some homeless people on the streets of New York; they move on to a project working with orphans and disabled children in Peru, and then spend some time in a leper colony in Ghana. Stunning visual images, flashbacks to footage of famine and war zones are accompanied by a soaring musical score as the young men move from one encounter to the next.  The filmmakers interject black and white shots of modern day philosophers offering their ideas on the meaning of life, including Fr John Neuhaus.

After all the philosophising and big pictures,  the most touching scene in the film for me is an unexpected, very personal encounter towards the end of the film. 

"Faith, hope, love and family are the most important things" the young men conclude.

During the Q&A after the screening I asked whether they were going to have more involvement with the people they had filmed. Jeffrey and Michael said that they were already organising voluntary work programs for young people.

The St Francis House in Brooklyn, where they live, is already  rooted in strong community outreach - as  well as giving these young men who often come from very difficult backgrounds, a 'second chance' in life.  Now they have made this film  -  it will be very interesting what they do next.

The Human Experience would make an excellent subject for a parish discussion group, RCIA or Confirmation preparation.  For more information see:

For more information about the St Francis House see:

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