Tonight I watched the brilliant, funny, heartbreaking, beautiful, and captivating documentary My Name Is Jonah. This film is not on the 1001 list, but deserves some praise for being an excellent story, AND clicking the link above is not only the usual requisite trailer but is a link to the full feature film available for free streaming online that began at midnight when the filmmakers posted it on Vimeo for all the world to enjoy. Touted as rejected by Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Slamdance, once can only hope that this piece’s new place as a free online documentary can garner more worldwide attention for its emotion, subtlety, warm humor, and mastery in storytelling.
The film profiles the larger-than-life personality of Jonah Wishnis, a man who’s life blurs the line between fantasy and reality in small-town Greece, New York. Beginning as a musician in the 1970s, his career has morphed into modeling, music, MySpace stardom, and the production of imaginative calendars, stories, comics, cards, and other memorabilia that celebrate his life as a kickass time-traveling mercenary. Living a life on the outskirts of what many would consider tasteful, Jonah’s true personality is eventually revealed as a man who has not given up on his dreams and endeavors, and truly gives his all in making a change in the world and the lives of people around him.
The production team of Phil Healy, JB Sapienza, and Jon Caron have built Jonah’s story from the ground up, expertly presenting the profile of a man whose heart and soul are dedicated to making the most of the time he has on this earth. The editing of the film, the heart of any documentary, is perhaps the most engaging part of its execution. To present a man with little commentary, and build his character through his own projects and the views of family and community members in a balanced and unbiased way is difficult. The piece coalesces into a gorgeous product, opening little conflicts and complications to the narrative as the film progresses and keeping the audience engaged with Jonah’s captivating personality.
The end result is a documentary that is easily on par with many profile-driven project centered pieces that have become standards in the industry. Well worth the price of admission (did I mention this was FREE to stream online?) and will easily enter the canon as a remarkably comprehensive biography of the most badass man you may have never heard of.
I loved it.
Long live Jonah.