A stern, yet compassionate mechanic seeks to heal racial divisions the only way he knows how.
“ShadeTree Mechanics,” is a comedy-drama-buddy feature that revolves around the lives of two unreliable mechanics, LUTHA and SLEEPY, who in their individual bumbling ways, attempt to maintain a functional mechanic shop in a close-knit neighborhood of Hopkinsville, KY. Lutha maintains a stern façade to camouflage his deep compassion for life and has no clue how to fix a vehicle. Sleepy understands vehicle mechanics but his narcolepsy hinders productivity. Adding to the shop’s daily comedic dysfunction are two neighborhood friends who use the shop as their second home and help ensure that work is kept to a minimum. Finally, a continually scheming, profit driven neighborhood dwarf, LIL BILL, risks the entire neighborhood’s health by selling outdated packaged meat from his gold spray painted shopping cart, complete with cash register and stereo system.
“ShadeTree Mechanic’s” subplot centers around the neighborhood’s endless curiosity for Lutha’s motivation in stringing up a motor from the shop’s shade tree. Unbeknownst to the neighborhood characters and the film’s viewers, Lutha bought the motor out of the truck white supremacists used to drag James Byrd, Jr. to his death on June 7, 1998 in Jasper, Texas.
When Lutha’s cancer diagnosis is revealed, the viewer’s perspective on his gruff behavior starts to change and speculation deepens as to the motor’s purpose. When everyone is shocked by Lutha’s sudden death in the film’s climax, it is through reading Lutha’s will to the assemblage of now beloved neighborhood characters, that his secret plan to heal racial divisions through a simple but constructive gesture is at last revealed. Lutha’s far seeing plans laid out in his will continue to generate positive outcomes for the remaining shop’s characters and all are invited to rethink how they might go about healing racial issues not only in the ShadeTree neighborhood, but beyond.
Don Hollowell makes his writing, producing and directorial debut with “ShadeTree Mechanics.” Shot in his hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the film draws on many unique and challenging personal experiences. Shortly after graduating from high school, Don spent the next 10 years in prison under minimum mandatory sentencing laws. Financially broke, he realized getting a college degree was his only chance of future survival. He reached back to his natural- born talent and drew portraits for fellow inmates and convicts to pay for college courses. Upon leaving prison with a BS in accounting, he landed in the mortgage industry, only to lose everything when the housing market collapsed in 2008. Once again Don turned to art, and it was while drawing in a coffee shop he was asked to play a role in an indie movie. This introduction to the film industry encouraged him to write creatively and teach himself the skills to bring his vision to life. He is currently working on a number of new scripts.
iChill Manila International Film Fest
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