Ernie & Joe Directed
Jenifer McShane USA / 2019 / 96 minutes
Times and Venues:
WOODSTOCK Bearsville Theater
RHINEBECK Upstate Films II
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Jenifer McShane, Toby Shimin
The news these days is filled with stories of police showdowns with mentally ill people that end tragically. But two cops from San Antonio, Texas, want to change that narrative. Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are part of a pioneering mental health unit at their police department that uses words, not bullets, to talk down people in crisis. By seeing them as victims rather than criminals, Ernie and Joe save lives.
Directed with great skill and sensitivity by Jenifer McShane, Ernie & Joe is a barebones cinema realite descent into the men’s everyday lives: the frustrations of bureaucracy, the effort to educate new cops and the unbearably intense life-and-death scenarios —several times a week— they must defuse. Along the way, we learn not only who these brave, forward-thinking men are on-duty, but also about their off-duty lives, personal struggles and triumphs. Finally, a story that portrays two heroic policemen with the respect they are due. —Jay Blotcher
BIO: Jenifer McShane is an independent filmmaker committed to using film to bridge understanding in situations where structural, cultural or religious divisions typically keep people apart. Ernie & Joe is Jenifer's third feature documentary. She spent nearly five years visiting Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to make her last documentary, Mothers of Bedford, which reveals the impact of incarceration on jailed mothers and their children. Jenifer’s first film (co-director), A Leap of Faith, follows a group of parents in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as they open an integrated school for Catholic and Protestant children. Jenifer is thrilled to bring Ernie & Joe to Woodstock!
Woodstock Film Festival
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Hudson Valley Film Commission
promotes sustainable economic development by attracting and supporting film, video and media production.