Filmmaker Mark Schwab helps us get to know an eccentric spiritualist in the documentary The Ambassador of God. Check out our review after the jump.
The name Mark Schwab has been talked about a lot in the Screen Critix offices these last few months; having made a name for himself for creating unique and interesting independent short and feature length films such as S.E.R.P, The Davenport Vampire and The Choice Point. All of the aforementioned films were different and thought provoking. Now, he continues that run with a new well-made documentary called The Ambassador of God.
One of the key ingredients for an interesting documentary is to have an interesting subject and Schwab (alongside Francesca Stonum) have found a very viable muse in Brother Anthony Penera – a homosexual spiritualist. Having known Penera for many years, Schwab decided to start recording the spiritualist in 2004. With many years worth of footage, The Ambassador of God was finally realised this year.
Alongside the footage of Penera, Schwab interview many people to have crossed the man’s path, including himself, as they relay stories of how they remember him. It’s pretty simple to see that Penera was an unusual character. This is a man who was a guide, gardener, radio DJ and a psychic healer and that’s before we mention that he also believed he was Joan of Arc and one of the first apostles in a previous life. Saying that he was “different” doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Many documentaries can fall a bit short. They can seem interesting but fail in keeping the viewers attention throughout. I know firsthand. Yet Schwab and Stonum succeed with the Ambassador of God. Nicely filmed, with crisp sound throughout, packaged together with a good edit. The Ambassador of God really is a great documentary film.
What was interesting to myself, along with the subject matter, was seeing the technological advances through the years of footage filmed by Schwab. The early shots of Penera were taken on a camcorder, with the recent ones being filmed in full HD. It’s the little thing I suppose. Maybe it’s just me.
All-in-all, Mark Schwab and Francesca Stonum have created something that I hope gains a wide audience. The (just under) ninety minute runtime flew by for me and I feel better for having watched the film. No, you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the feature doc (I’m not in the slightest). I enjoyed and appreciated it in abundance.