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The Independent Critic

Gerard O'Dwyer, Megan Cooper, Patrick Magee
Genevieve Clay-Smith
Genevieve Clay-Smith, Gerard O'Dwyer
9 Mins.


 "Be My Brother" Screening at ReelAbilities Pittsburgh 
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Writer/director Genevieve Clay-Smith's Be My Brother is one of her earlier films, a strong indicator of the filmmaker's longtime devotion to making films that are rich with humanitarian themes yet constructed from realistic, honest stories and, perhaps even more refreshingly, inclusive casting. 

Be My Brother stars Australian actor Gerard O'Dwyer as Richard, a young man who, armed with nothing but a dictaphone and endless amounts of charm, changes the perspective of two people he meets at a bus stop. 

While the current indie hit The Peanut Butter Falcon is making waves here in the U.S. for its inclusive casting and stand-out performance by Zeno Mountain Farm vet Zack Gottsagen, the truth is that Hollywood continues to struggle with the simple concept of truly inclusive casting. O'Dwyer, an actor with Down Syndrome, gives a delightful, spirited performance as Richard and it's the kind of performance that makes everything else that unfolds in the film feel honest, true, and completely authentic. 

One shouldn't however, in the shadow of O'Dwyer's performance, forget to mention Megan Cooper's equally delightful turn as Amanda, a young woman who at first seems unnerved by this rather strange-acting young man but who quickly becomes rather immersed in his charming and disarming personality. Cooper's shift is subtle yet meaningful and never strikes a false note. It's a tremendous performance. 

O'Dwyer picked up the prize for Best Actor at TropFest in 2009 and, yes, the film really has continued to be screened throughout the world over the past 10 years. The film also picked up Best Film at the fest. Clay-Smith has made several films since then and this is the type of film where you instantly want to set out to watch the rest of her films. 

Be My Brother is screening as part of ReelAbilities Pittsburgh this week alongside one of Genevieve Clay-Smith's more recent shorts, Inclusion Makes the World More Vibrant. Both films are enjoyable films and you can find out more about the festival by visiting the fest's official website. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic