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A VISION OF SHIRLEY TEMPLE


One of the more unusual indie film stories forwarded to us as Filmmaker is that of Minnesota producer and writer Christopher Harmon. Profiled here in the Minnesota-St. Paul Star Tribune, “Harmon can’t see, but he has vision. Can’t hear, but has imagination. Can’t move, but in his mind, he can dance and sing and dream about giving the rest of us films with messages of hope and triumph.” Harmon has a rare neurological condition called spino cerebellar degeneration which prevents communication and requires his use of a respirator to breathe.

With writer Doug Klozzner, however, Harmon, who communicates through interpreters, has completed a script for a film called Sparkle, Serena!, “a contemporary version of Shirley Temple’s song and dance films.”

From the piece:

“All the while, the government was fighting him in court over who should pay for the interpreters, who are all that stand between Harmon and total isolation. Eventually, he said, he won the fight, but ‘my family was left almost bankrupt.’

‘I couldn’t face life anymore,’ he said. ‘I remember lying on my bed, asking God for death.’

Instead, he got this: a memory of a Shirley Temple movie, The Little Princess, he’d seen clearly years earlier at a group home.

‘It’s an embarrassing confession,’ Harmon said of this connection of Shirley Temple, God and inspiration. ‘When you’re deaf and blind, you’re a little isolated.’

The key connector in all of this is that for reasons he never has been able to understand, he saw the old black-and-white movie clearly.

That night of despair led to this movie project, now entering its fourth year. The project, to him, is the essence of life.”

Harmon and Klozzner have a website that details more about their idiosyncratic quest to discover a new child star and recreate the charm of the ’30s and ’40s children’s musical.

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