Filmmaker Christian de Rezendes ’00
The award-winning documentary “Raising Matty Christian,” filmed by Christian de Rezendes ’00, was recently screened as part of the Doc Corner series at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival in France. For a documentary filmmaker, showing at Cannes is like striking gold; moreover, the Doc Corner is where distributors and buyers from around the world come to purchase critically acclaimed documentaries like de Rezendes’.
Winner of nine U.S. film festival awards and officially selected for screening by 16 film festivals nationwide, “Raising Matty Christian” profiles the life of Matthew Christian (1983-2009), known as “Matty” by the town of Canton, Mass., where he grew up. Matty was born without a full set of arms and legs and without a tongue. As told through interviews with his parents and brother, as well as several close friends and significant figures in his life, “Raising Matty Christian” paints an inspiring portrait of a young man who set out to live life to the fullest in spite of physical disabilities and whose life, in turn, impacted the lives of many others.
de Rezendes heard about Matty’s story through a friend and fellow filmmaker who was transferring the Christian family’s old VHS home movies to DVD.
“From the very first image I saw of the home videos, I knew I wanted to make this film,” said de Rezendes. “That first image became the opening shot of the film.”
In 2011 de Rezendes met Matty’s parents, Ally and Jerry Christian, who hired him to produce the film, while they served as executive producers and funded the project. Both de Rezendes and Matty’s parents said they are surprised by the incredible reception the film is receiving.
Greg Ropp, director of the Spirit Quest Film Festival, called “Raising Matty Christian” “an emotionally charged, warts-and-all documentary . . . It’s a film that will stick with you long after the credits roll.”
And Phil Hall of Film Threat.com. called it “one of the most profoundly moving nonfiction films” he has ever seen. Hall said, “This film needs to be seen, talked up, cherished and honored.”
Trailer – “Raising Matty Christian”
A native of the village of Slatersville in North Smithfield, R.I., and a graduate of the film studies program at Rhode Island College, de Rezendes knew early on what he wanted to do with his life – tell stories through film.
In his freshman year at RIC, he founded Breaking Branches Pictures production company and for the past 15 years, his documentaries, film shorts, dramas and comedies have been distributed, screened internationally at film festivals and broadcast regionally on PBS.
RIC film studies students regularly work with de Rezendes on his productions, either through a RIC internship or on a volunteer basis.
“All the interns from RIC have been fabulous,” de Rezendes said. “They learn editing and production on site and then apply it to their projects at the college.”
This summer two film studies majors – David Posman and Michael Kimbrough – are working with de Rezendes on his feature-length documentary “Slatersville: America’s First Mill Village.” And RIC grad Kassandra Lima ’14 worked on the film as a student and continues to assist with the editing. Two years in the making, “Slatersville” provides a 220-year history of the Slater Mill and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.