Clarence: An Inspiring Life

Documentary to Screen at Milwaukee Film Festival

Sep. 14, 2015
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Clarence Garrett has led a remarkable life. The Milwaukee resident is an African American who served during World War II in the segregated army, became a warrant officer and worked in civilian life as a mechanic. Retirement was not the end. At age 85, Garrett decided to reclaim the scattered college credits he had earned years before and enroll at UW-Milwaukee with a BA in mind.

Garrett is the subject of Clarence, a documentary by Milwaukee filmmaker Kristin Catalano. In her study of can-do determination, Catalano discretely follows Garrett as he bravely steps into the strange new world of 21st century college life. He masters the online library catalog, becomes a leader in class discussions and a favorite among students and faculty. Never having touched a computer, he enrolls in a class and learns the basics. Even an ulcerated leg infection barely slows him down. He checks into a hospital with his textbooks and emerges with more energy than ever. Garrett ends semester one with As and Bs.

Catalano cleverly uses a medical appointment in the opening scene as a way of introducing much of Garrett’s back story as her subject responds to a physician’s battery of questions.

Clarence was screened earlier this year at the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison and has been chosen for the Milwaukee Film Festival. It will be shown 4 p.m., Sept. 28 at Times Cinema; 3:15 p.m., Oct. 1 at the Oriental Theatre; and 12:30 p.m., Oct. 3 at Fox Bay Cinema.

 

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