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This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr (dir. Antoine Fisher) | Sneak Peek

November 27th, 2012 | by Seán J. Grannum
This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr (dir. Antoine Fisher) | Sneak Peek
Film
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Antoine Fisher, writer of the New York Times Best Seller, Finding Fish, is back with his with first film in three years, a documentary on African-American business icon Leon T. Garr. This Life of Mine: The Fascinating Life of Leon T. Garr focuses on the owner of Founders National Bank.

Born on March 23, 1914, his life story is certainly intriguing, as the plot summary details; “Leon T. Garr was born in March 23, 1914, in Ruston, Louisiana. He endured and witnessed unspeakable horrors as a young man growing up in America’s deep south. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Mr. Garr migrated to Los Angeles, California. With a third grade education, he entered the construction business and amassed millions, which he used to help enrich others.

“At the age of seventy six, Mr. Garr purchased a failed savings and loan, and transformed it into Founders National Bank. Mr. Garr became Chairman Garr, and with that, Founders Bank became the only National Bank owned by an African American west of the Mississippi. His documentary is a rich American tale of a driven man who, in his own words, tells of his life’s journey through nearly one hundred years of America’s most triumphant and tragic times.”

If Antoine Fisher sounds like a familiar name to you, it may be because Finding Fish, his 2001 autobiography, was adapted into a feature-length film starring Denzel Washington, appropriately named after himself. Fisher wrote, directed and produced the film, and according to Indiewire worked on the project with Garr daily for more than a year.

Fisher himself said in the press kit, “Our routine was I would pick him up from his home and bring him to my house where we would spend each day talking for hours about his life and experiences, the places he’s traveled and the people he knew. While we were there as professionals to interview for the documentary and our friendship was new, talking with Mr. Garr was like sitting with someone I had always known who had ninety-nine years of stories, emotions and history to share and the cameras just happened to be there to witness.

“In fact, the cameras, at times, seemed like a third wheel, an interruption of a very good conversation about the lessons of life and business and the history of our people. Some days, I wished I were in the stories with him and other days, I was glad I wasn’t because I do not know if I am made of the stuff of which one must be made in order to endure being African American during various times of which Mr. Garr spoke.”

The film debuted at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles earlier this year, and while a UK release date is not yet known you can catch a sneak peek of the film below. iOS users can also download a free iBook here by Fisher called Meeting Mr. Garr, which as expected details “how Antwone Fisher met Mr. Leon Garr and decided to make a documentary film about Mr. Garr’s life.”