Daily updates from the first annual AFI DALLAS International Film Festival presented by Target, founding sponsor Victory Park, March 22 to April 1, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

DIVINE SOULS: Unglamorous Look at Unglamorous Profession

Jim Dolan, Nancy Chartier, Kelley West, Kevin Smith in Divine Souls

Let it be known that television feeds you lies. (Surprised?) ABC's Gray's Anatomy says that there is something sexy and suave about being a doctor. Fox's House suggests that this "something" is a dignified dose of cynicism and the potential for flash-bulb epiphanies. And NBC's Scrubs pretends that medicine is something doctors can do between day-dreams and dance numbers.

In truth, being a medical professional is no fun. And not sexy. In fact, it's probably the least fun thing you could do. Less fun than breaking rocks with bigger rocks. Less sexy than Condi Rice in a one-piece.

This notion is supported by the film Divine Souls, which centers around a nurse named Kerri (played by Nancy Chartier) whose personal life and mental health is bombarded by her consistently-depressing job at an AIDS clinic.

Filmed in Caddo Mills, Texas (roughly twenty miles northeast of Rockwall) Souls takes a non-glamorous look a truly non-glamorous profession. David, a nine-year-old boy under Kerri’s care, is losing his sight.

"Does it hurt to die?" he asks one day. Kerri, of course, cannot answer. Meanwhile, Stacy (Kelley West), a fellow nurse, is being abused by her boyfriend. And Lisa, a recovering victim of rape, shares her sordid past.

For the sake of accuracy and sincerity, writer and director James McDonald drew from his own visits to an AIDS clinic when constructing the film.

"It was like a morgue," he says. "No visitors, no children running about. This was a place where people went to spend the rest of their last days. It was very sad."

But the most depressing aspect of this film is actually not its storyline. In a freakish coincidence, Jeffie Legend, the actress who plays Lisa, passed away late last year from cancer—an ailment that none of the cast, crew or even her own family knew about before it was too late.

"What's so ironic is that her character contemplates dying and what it will be like," says McDonald. "And in real life, she must have been asking herself those very same questions."

DIVINE SOULS will play at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28th at the Magnolia. Mrs. Legend’s son will be in attendance.


Director James McDonald
Kelley West

By Chad Jones, Staff Writer