Jazmine Faries tells the audience she wants to "make them feel what love is about" in the opening scenes of the slice-of-life documentary, "Iron Family."
In that context, she's referring to her original play, "The Double Life," which tells the soap-opera-like story of Jazmine Carrington (played by Jazmine herself), her husband Matthew McConaughey and an unintended pregnancy courtesy of a tryst with Mark Wahlberg.
But Jazmine may as well have been talking about the story of love between herself, her brother Chad and the rest of their "Iron" family.
Iron sharpens Iron
"Iron Family" follows the Faries family as they prepare to put on the sixth season of Jazmine's original stage play, which has become an annual family affair and a staple of their small town.
"By the time we got to season four, I knew that there was some magic," Chad said. "I had a goal that summer that, at the very least, I just needed to get somebody up there to film. I was pretty confident though that once I got somebody to do that, we would have something special."
Chad approached local director Patrick Longstreth to film the documentary. Longstreth said he was inspired to make "Iron Family" his first feature film documentary after the Faries family captured his heart.
In "The Double Life," a young fashion designer is trying to find her place in the world. The premise is reflective of Jazmine's life as the audience watches her, a 32-year-old woman with Down syndrome, work to establish her independence, navigate familial and romantic relationships and express herself creatively.
Looking for Pearls: Jazmine Faries wants everyone to follow their dreams
"I just thought doing my play could help me realize that I'm more than just Jazmine Faries. I could be anything. You know how Barbie dolls always have a message: You can be anything you want. And I am that. That's why I'm doing this play. To be anything I want to be."
The name of the documentary stems from its location in Iron River, Michigan, but it's very reflective of the family in which iron sharpens iron. Each person in the family –– which includes mom Kate German and father figure Greg Banks –– challenges, strengthens and supports the other as they each share their own personal struggles and how family helped them through it.
Slamdance Film Festival Audience Award
The film has won several film festival awards including best documentary at the 2021 Atlanta Underground Film Festival. It has now been accepted to the Slamdance Film Festival, an annual film festival focused on emerging artists. The Utah-based event is virtual this year, but that hasn't stopped the excitement for all those involved.
"I got the phone call, they told me we got in and I was really excited," Longstreth said. "I think this virtual screening is going to be pretty good for us because more people will see it in the end virtually than they would have seen it in a theater. And we're up for the Audience Award."
The Audience Award is just that — an award voted on by the audience. In order to participate, Slamdance is selling $10 all-access virtual passes that include accessible on-demand streaming for the duration of the festival. Viewers can watch the film through the end of the festival on Feb. 6 but voting ends on Feb. 2.
Savannah coverage: SEDA CEO Trip Tollison updates on the returning film industry in Savannah
"There's something in this film for everybody," Chad said. "You can relate regardless of your experience. You can relate to the love, you can relate to the heartbreak, you can relate to some of the aspirations that different people have, and so on. Your family could be completely different than the Iron Family but you still understand those family dynamics, and you feel with us."
How to vote for "Iron Family"
What: Audience Award at Slamdance Film Festival
When: Jan. 27- Feb. 2
Laura Nwogu is the quality of life reporter for Savannah Morning News. Contact her at email@example.com. Twitter: @lauranwogu_
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: 'Iron Family' documentary screens at Slamdance Film Festival