Friday the 13th was a lucky day for the participants in the 15th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival. Unlike Harvest, the documentary subject of Part I, Born and Raised is a coming of age feature film set in a seaside town. The film was written by Nick Loritsch and directed by friend Josh Dragge. The pair met while attending the University of Colorado Film School. The venue at the festival was the Women’s Club Theater which, again, employed the Cabaret style seating. Like Harvest, Born and Raised played to a packed house and was very well received.
As the plot summary reveals, young Bubbs, convincingly played by Loritsch, is stuck in this small town watching the comings and goings of the well to do yachtsmen and realizing he has no expectations other than living and dying here if he doesn’t do something different. His dad abandoned the family when he was young and his rascally grandfather Frank (played to a tee by Jackson Pyle), who also abandoned Bubbs’ grandmother and mother, sails in and out of his life.
The conflicts and interactions caused by Bubbs uncertainty about his future, his relationship with his mother, who is against his leaving and becoming like Frank and between he and his friends and girl friends provide a wonderful canvas for the talented actors to paint a picture of coming of age struggles and learning (and being) who you are. Those struggles and relationships are the real heart of this film. The writing and direction were tight and the films indolent pace created the perfect mood.
The rest of the cast, including Bubbs best friend Kevin (Keith Hudson), mother Mary (Sandra Staggs), girl friends Corey and Jess (Dawntavia Bullard and Heather McCallum, respectively), was quite convincing as the denizens of this small town and represented the positive and negative aspects of remaining close to your hometown.
The large audience was attentive and remained afterward to question Nick and Josh about their motivations, challenges, funding and other aspects of making the film. Also in attendance were Nick’s parents, Josh’s mom and sister and one of the Executive Producers, Austin Eckstein. They were all very generous with their time and soaked up the audience’s enthusiasm.
It is fascinating that Nick was able to write this piece about the struggles of escaping the gravity of a small hometown considering that his life was rather nomadic. He said his family moved from town to town with each of his father’s employment advancements. He even lived in Panama City, the backdrop for the film, before moving to Denver for his senior year in high school. On the other hand, Director, Josh Dragge is a product of a small town in Sonoma County where some of his family still resides. “Born and Raised” is the pairs feature film debut and portends great things to come as they hone their writing, acting and film making skills. Two thumbs up for this one!!