Synopsis

 

"For Once In My Life" a documentary film featuring the Spirit of Goodwill Band A true story about a special group of people and their dream to make music...

 

For Once In My Life is a documentary about a unique band of singers and musicians, and their journey to show the world the greatness—and killer soundtrack—within each of them. The band members have a wide range of mental and physical disabilities—as well as musical abilities that extend into ranges of pure genius.

In a cinema verite style, the film explores the struggles and triumphs, and the healing power of music, as the band members' unique talents are nurtured, to challenge the world's perceptions.

The Characters

Their personal stories are filled with setbacks, victories and—ultimately—growth as individuals. Perfection might become secondary to the joy of participation and sense of empowerment that shows on each musician's face. This disciplined group of men and women, with their own style of music, has much more to give than just a great sound. They offer inspiration and the message of music's nurturing powers for people with and without disabilities. The band proves to be an important life lesson of hope, courage and trust in humanity for all members and audiences alike.

Intercut between concerts and rehearsals, individuals are revealed. The audience will understand Terry, the blind and damaged lead singer / saxophone player who was dropped at 14 months and never fully recovered mentally and physically, but definitely emotionally, as he is one of the most inspiring, positive persons alive.

Christian, who has autism and is blind, is an incredible pianist. Although with a slight stutter, he eloquently describes his wishes to become a famous musician where the whole world will hear him play.

Nancy is another main character with mental slowness. She is a soprano with a strong New York accent, and is seen running her own household where she is the main caregiver and breadwinner of her two older mentally handicapped siblings.

Sam, the drummer, could not develop properly in his mother's womb, as she tried to conceal her pregnancy. With many physical and mental problems at birth he has grown into an entertaining but serious adult. The band has helped him to grow socially and contain his internal anger. He's recently proposed to one of the vocalists, Patricia, and together they have dreams of a life together and having a family. Other band members have problems with behavior and coping in general, and risk being removed from the band during this trying period of preparation for an important concert. The film shows the strong bond that drives them to work harder to prove themselves as musicians.

The Journey

The film begins as the band has begun to venture out into new venues. The band was conceived and began playing music in 1996, within the walls of Goodwill Industries of South Florida, where all members are employed. They started with one piano and have grown into an orchestra with voice, percussions, keyboards and a brass section. In 2003, the band recorded their first CD with donated time in a local studio. In progression, the band entertains audiences with concerts at veteran's homes, civic commitments and nursing homes. More recently, with an updated repertoire, the band played for a sold out crowd at the University of Miami in 2008 and recorded a new CD, and soundtrack for the film.

In late 2007, a small group of filmmakers collaborated with the music director and Goodwill , to launch a film that would be seen across America. With over 23 million people with disabilities in our country, there is large potential for interested audiences. By April, news was received that Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Emilio Estefan were coming to hear the band and it ended up in a great jam session which was taped, as well as more serious footage as they toured the facility where the band members work at Goodwill. From there, production took off as Mr. Estefan gave the film support with access to his music and his artists and Mayor Diaz invited the band to play at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center for the U.S. Mayor's Convention as key performers in June 2008.

This concert performance became more than wished for or imagined by the band, with an evening to play for an audience of over 1000 people, made up of Mayors from 440 US cities, their families and the city's special guests. However, this was a concert to very prestigious audience, was beyond anything they had previously accomplished. The Spirit of Goodwill band is not an ordinary band and their unique challenges made the attempt to work on a professional stage as part of a much larger event, left the producers and director wondering to the last minute if the performance could actually be pulled off.

With ongoing filming of the complications of getting through rehearsals, interviews, and the tensions of the build-ups and trials, the story takes shape. What has been accomplished is a documentary that offers inspiration and the message of music's nurturing powers for all people.

 
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