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The Grandfathers (2011)

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A young man, deep in the Amazon jungle, searches for his identity while living with the primitive tribe that murdered his grandfather.

Jesse Saint never knew his Grandpa Nate – he only knew, as anyone who read LIFE Magazine knew, that Nate had cared deeply for the Waodani Indians of Ecuador before he died a martyr at their hands. Jesse's father, Steve, grew up with the tribe who killed his dad, and ultimately helped the Waodani end the cycle of spear-killing that had claimed Nate's life and decimated the tribe's own numbers. It was the kind of story that stained-glass windows are made out of – and Jesse Saint spent most of his life dodging the pressure to live up to that heroic image. 

In The Grandfathers, award-winning director Jim Hanon (End of the SpearMiss HIV) ventures into this remarkable true story from Jesse's perspective, exploring the fear and the hope that accompanies a teenage boy stepping out of his father's shadow and into his own light. Using film shot on-location deep in the Amazon jungle with visionary design and animation, this documentary follows Jesse as he builds his own uncommon life under the guidance of the men who killed the grandpa he never knew. 

Viewed through a patchwork of family histories, Jesse's misadventures in the jungle take on greater gravity as he sees the culture of the Waodani, who are now his second family, dying before his North American eyes. The notorious killers have become to Jesse his real grandfathers. And the farther he steps out of the Saint family story, the closer he comes to realizing there may be room for him in his father's – and his grandfather's – legacy after all.

Tags: documentary, comedy, drama, 2011

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