39 Pounds of Love

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Nathasha Alvarez

Asaf Gives Two Thumbs Up

Once again Miami’s own, Harry Horgan uses Shake A Leg’s historical hangar for a worthwhile time of fun and inspiration. Last night, Shake A Leg held a movie screening for “39 Pounds of Love”, a film that truly captures Audacity Magazine’s message of living an audacious life!

Ami Ankilewitz’s story can be appreciated on so many levels: spiritually, literally, figuratively. As disabled people, we appreciate, understand and support his decisio

n to travel from Israel to the United States in search of a doctor who predicted he would not live past the age of six. The movie does more than concentrate on the search for the physician. It digs into our own need to do more with our lives than merely exist.

Ami lives with a severe form of muscular dystrophy. Rather than dwelling on the medical interpretation and limitations of the illness, the film focuses on Ami’s thoughts, decisions and actions.

At his celebratory 34th birthday dinner, Ami announces his plans to leave home and find Dr. Cordova. Despite his parents’ protests, Ami sets off with his best friend and former caretaker, Asaf, and his friends who make up the filming crew. A rather sudden decision?

Not exactly. A year earlier, Ami realizes that his feelings for his caretaker, Christina, will never be reciprocated at the same passionate level, he decides to cut her out of his life and makes plans to travel abroad. The film footage is excellent. There is no guessing or too much narrative to explain to the viewers what is better said with film.

To further enhance Ami’s views about his love for Christina, Ami created a 3D animation love story using only the one part of his body that he can still move: his left finger. The story is about a bird who is in a similar love predicament and must give the lady bird the moon to have her into his life. Ami’s symbolism is so apparent yet, it is romantic and heartfelt with a touch of class that would make any woman swoon.

Rather than spoil the ending for you on that story line, let’s focus on the other story subplots that capture the hearts and souls of everyone in the audience. Throughout the entire movie, Ami’s witty humor and peaceful attitude shine through in those moments when people would tend to lash out of frustration, anger or resentment.

For example, there is a scene where Ami is in the park and people literally appear to be frightened by the mere sight of him. While many people with physical disabilities can empathize with Ami, those feelings do not last too long when Ami makes a quick comment about the strange reactions from the people in Israel.

Regardless of where he travels, Ami gives quite an impression. In one scene, Ami sits in a green inflatable chair in the middle of the desert with several strangers having a philosophical conversation. The image depicts a strong connection to Jesus in his travels.

Many of us with a physical disability are often given unsolicited prayers and predictions of a near future cure that will take our pain, discomfort and disability away. Ami is no stranger to that in his travels from California to Florida. He accepts their blessings and well wishes. Right before he is about to make one of his lifetime dreams come true, an unlikely person performs a healing treatment and tells him that he will be fine. Ami replies that he will be fine after he completes this particular goal.

It doesn’t take much to realize that his thoughts might be spiritual but his attire is screaming, “Where is my Harely Davidson?” Ami has a scruffy not fully grown beard, a tattoo on each arm, and motorcycle boots. He describes himself as weighing similar to a big turkey. There is a prominent sense of spunk in his personality.

His desire to locate the doctor who sentenced him to 6 years of life and not one day more is compounded by a surprise visit to his brother’s home in the United States. Oscar, the older brother, felt ignored because of the attention Ami’s disability demanded from people which lead to their estranged relationship. The visit brings tears to our eyes. The reunion is met with more unexpected surprises that remind us to forgive one another and embrace the moment.

The film flows smoothly. I can honestly say there is not one scene in the entire film that does not add another dimension in Ami’s life. From his comment about a particular owner’s Dracula looking door knocker to the 3D animated storyline, there is part of Ami in everything.

The most profound statement in the film is Ami’s perception on death. “I live with death by my side. We’re old friends.” As people with physical disabilities, we know exactly what he lives with on a daily basis. No pity, a simple statement that says it all.

Even if I describe and analyze every scene my words would still not give the film the justice it deserves as an excellent portrayal of a man setting out, as he puts it, on a climb up Mount Everest. Ami’s story earned its accolades in the film industry and it will earn it in your hearts.

The movie will air on HBO on March 22, 2006. The DVD will be available on May 1, 2006. The soundtrack is available now.