Film maker: I’m a better person for knowing Johnny Barnes’
The Island’s most famous greeter Johnny Barnes could be part of the solution to the ongoing gang violence, according to a US documentary film maker.
Matt Morris travelled to the Island last year to record the short film ‘Mr Happy Man’ about Mr Barnes.
The film has screened at festivals across the US, including the Aspen Shortsfest, Florida Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston and Palm Springs Shortsfest.
Mr Morris’ spoke to The Royal Gazette following the release of his film on DVD and said Mr Barnes’ presence should serve as a daily reminder to residents about loving one another and the importance of spreading joy not violence.
“I’ve kept up with what’s been going on in Bermuda since making the film. The main focus in the news these days seems to be all the gang violence going on.
“Everyone is trying to figure out what has created the problem, but no matter what is causing it, I think the solution could very well be on Crow Lane every morning.
“Many Bermudians take Johnny for granted. They see him every day so he sort of fades into the background. I’ve taken the film across the country, and everyone is amazed and delighted by Johnny.”
Mr Morris said while filming on the Island he met people who were surprised he would journey more than 650 miles from Florida just to film Mr Barnes.
“I know that to a lot of people, Johnny means the world to them, but for the others, I think they need to take a second look. As Johnny says in the clip, we need to learn how to love one another.
“It’s easy to lose sight of this, but as Bermudian Darnell Wynn says in the film, Johnny serves as a daily reminder that people have the choice to be happy each day.
“They also have the choice to help cheer other people up, just as Johnny does.”
Mr Morris’ film has won an Honorable Mention from the Documentary Grand Jury at the Nashville Film Festival and was recently accepted to show at one of the most well recognised documentary film festivals in America, AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs.
He said it has been so popular in festivals like Mountainfilm Telluride they had to add an addition showing.
“People really connect to Johnny and his simple but powerful message. Last week, in Telluride, I was approached by five different people who had either lived in Bermuda or visited and had seen Johnny Barnes.
“Even more have told me they look forward to visiting Bermuda someday to meet him.”
“I’m delighted that the film has been so successful, but the greater joy for me has been getting to know Johnny Barnes as a person. I’ve become a better person because of it.”
Mr Morris encouraged people to visit the Facebook fan page on www.facebook.com/mrhappymanfilm to get the latest information on screenings around the US, and exclusive video and photos.
The DVD is now available at the Bermuda Book Store, on Queen Street, in Hamilton for $15.
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