#BringBackTheFolk with American Folk

I finally had a chance to check out American Folk, a film by David Heinz, on iTunes the other day.

When their plane from Los Angeles to New York is grounded on the morning of September 11, 2001, strangers Elliott (Joe Purdy) and Joni (Amber Rubarth) are unexpectedly thrust together amidst the chaos of that historic day. With little in common but both needing to get to NYC urgently, they accept help from Joni’s family friend Scottie (Krisha Fairchild) who lends the duo a rusty old 1972 Chevy Van. The shock and stress of 9/11 quickly threatens to derail their cross-country journey until the pair discover what they do have in common: a love for old folk songs.
— Synopsis
 Credit: Cinedigm

Credit: Cinedigm

There's not really much I need to say to add to the description of this movie. If you can remember the days following 9/11, you'll remember how kind Americans seemed to be to one another.

We always seem to treat one another much better right after a tragedy.

I absolutely could not get my wife to watch this movie with me. I have tried everything I can think of but she flat out says that it's "too sad a concept" for her to watch. This is only because it's about the days following 9/11 and for no other reason.

When I think of 9/11, I have to remember to watch myself. That just because I'm from New York and it affected me as closely and directly as it did, I was actually able to see the cleanup process first hand. Many people around this country, my wife included, didn't have that physical observation of the rubble being cleared away, slowly at first and then more and more as the days, months, years went by.

Some people in the country, seventeen years after the fact, are still having a hard time with 9/11. Not unlike how I'm having a hard time with the Pulse Massacre. 

 Credit: Cinedigm

Credit: Cinedigm

I guess this film opened up a lot of discussions with people around me about how they handle grief in the moment and in the years later. Some people have the ability to push through and focus on the art of life and others have to lock themselves away in a, quite literal, desert. 

One thing I really appreciate is whenever Joni and Elliott stop for a driving break, the camera always shows them talking somewhere away from the crowd, who are all crowded around the nearest television to see the newest updates about the recent attacks. It's not that Joni and Elliott are avoiding the coverage, they listen to the radio reports while they're driving (in between songs). 

It's interesting that American Folk gets the attention of all walks of life: musicians unsure of their place, college kids coming out of the closet, men preparing for war, men lost after a war, immigrants welcoming all, etc. I think that should be the focus of this film, not the fact that it's in the days following 9/11, but that it captures the sadness, and supportive strangers and nervous young people that the country was filled with during that time.

And in my opinion, it was captured expertly. The music fits the vibe. The direction was on point. High fives and stage dives to this one... wait, do they stage dive in folk music? I need to check that one out. I've only ever been to one Pete Seeger concert, Farm Aid 2013, and I think I was contact-high from only being able to afford lawn seats at SPAC.

I thought that Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth did a hell of a job and I really enjoyed this film. I've been playing the soundtrack to American Folk (because of that other folk music project I'm working on) and it's absolutely amazing as well. Look for it on iTunes music and Apple Music!

This post was proofread by Grammarly

Just so you know, if you buy something featured in this article, we might earn an affiliate commission.