PORT TOWNSEND — This movie could have been about the inspirational chef who faces down a physical injury — of catastrophic proportions — and “is still kicking butt in the outdoors,” said director Phil Baribeau.
But that would have been the easy way, he figures.
Instead, Baribeau and his friend and film subject Eduardo Garcia took a dive into what they call “the bottom of the barrel” after that injury. They also look deeply at Garcia’s relationship with his closest friend, Jennifer Jane, complete with “the good, the bad and the ugly,” as Baribeau put it.
This is the story of “Charged,” the Port Townsend Film Festival Pic for April. The 87-minute documentary will be available for streaming this Monday through next Sunday, April 11, along with a freshly recorded interview with Baribeau and Garcia, via PTfilmfest.com.
Tickets are $10, with proceeds benefiting both the festival and the independent filmmakers. The website also has a link to the movie’s trailer; for information and technical support, email [email protected] or phone 360-379-1333.
“Charged,” which began making the rounds to American film festivals in 2017, came to Port Townsend along with Garcia himself.
The film opens six years earlier when Garcia, on a solo hike in the Montana back country, finds a bear carcass. When he nudges it with his knife, a hidden power line sends 2,400 volts of electricity through his body.
There were nine exit wounds. Garcia’s body was severely burned; as he arrived at the hospital in Salt Lake City, he was told he was “a bag of bones with a heartbeat.” He later had four ribs removed and his infected left hand amputated.
Jane, who had been his girlfriend, had left him some months before, after Garcia had proven himself unfaithful. When she learned of the injury, she returned from England to be his caregiver through the ensuing months.
Baribeau was a filmmaker and Garcia’s friend before he broached the idea of a documentary. In this movie, Baribeau hoped to go beyond Garcia’s triumphant return to work as a chef and to an active life as an athlete. He wanted to learn about the roles of love and forgiveness.
Garcia resisted for a while, then plunged in.
Janette Force, Port Townsend Film Festival executive director, conducts the 28-minute interview with the “Charged” filmmakers. She remarks on how the movie explores Garcia’s re-evaluation of his life.
Over the past year, “a lot of us have had to look in the mirror and see ourselves in hardship,” she said. We’ve had a chance to focus on what we have, rather than what we lack — as Garcia has done.
He responded that his injury has amplified his ability to connect with other people. During the question-and-answer sessions at those film festivals four years ago, Garcia eagerly listened to their stories.
Now the chef behind the Montana Mex culinary products company in Bozeman, he continues to hear from viewers just discovering the film. In their interview with Force, Garcia and Baribeau talk about their plans for more collaborative work.
And Garcia still marvels at humans’ ability to “flip the script,” as he says, when facing adversity.
“Eduardo remains one of the most inspiring and honest people I have had the pleasure to meet,” Force told the Peninsula Daily News.
Her favorite memory from his visit to Port Townsend: When he got down on hand, hook and knees to talk with Ben, a 6-year-old patron. Explaining how his prosthetic hook works, he encouraged Ben to explore it.
“Neither I nor Ben will ever forget that,” Force said.
“This is a film and a person I am proud to support.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]