The Soul Bearers -- Too controversial for Hollywood?
"They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear," explains novelist, Sylvia Massara. "How true this turns out to be for three people whose lives come together when they share a home for a time. As a result of this interaction, they learn to have the courage to overcome their obstacles, they give in friendship and love unconditionally; they accept death with peace, and in the face of all adversity they emerge with hope, wisdom and strength toward their destiny and a brighter future. This is a story that will take one through the sadness of Philadelphia to the will of never giving up and eventually finding joy in The Shawshank Redemption."
Partly inspired by real life events, The Soul Bearers is a story of courage, the gift of friendship, and unconditional love. The centre is three people whose lives cross for a short period of time and the profound effect which results from their interaction. Alex Dorian, freelance travel writer and victim of child sexual abuse, arrives in Sydney in an attempt to exorcise the ghosts of her past. She shares a house with Steve and the disturbing Matthew, a homosexual couple. Alex finds she is inexplicably drawn to Matthew, and she must battle with her repressed sexuality and her fear of intimacy.
Matthew, extremely good looking, and an inspiring actor/model, lives with Steve, who is dying of AIDS. Matthew has his own battle, that of dealing with the rejection of his socialite parents and facing a future without his partner. Steve is the rock to which the troubled Matthew and Alex cling as they examine their lives and beliefs. Steve's legacy to his housemates lives on in the strength that both Matthew and Alex find to face their own pain. Alex learns to love again thanks to the gift of friendship from Matthew; and in turn, with Alex’s love and support, Matthew learns to forgive the past and move on to follow his dream.
The question now is whether or not Hollywood is ready for The Soul Bearers. There seems to be no end to the lows the film industry is willing to mudslide into to please a lowbrow culture. Whether it’s inserting the undead into the classics, redundancies of offensive bodily functions, crude language and character names which intentionally sound nasty, the dream factory can’t churn them out quickly enough.
Yet in The Soul Bearers, sophisticated adult storylines and situations intersect with impending death, child rape, dysfunctional family dynamics, sex - both gay and straight, and gay with straight, and above all, friendship, love, caring, hope and the finding and giving of strength. Broadway has shown itself to be far more open to this type of risk taking, and with astounding results, but which Hollywood producers could give this story the treatment it deserves?
Massara has yet to confirm any deals or name the production groups she favours for her book, and she is also looking beyond Hollywood to the UK, Australia and New Zealand for film producers with true vision.
Many reviewers of The Soul Bearers are saying they definitely envision the story as a film, one directed by someone with the skill and understanding it takes to convey such a myriad of human emotion. Massara has a number of names which fit this criteria, veteran producers and/or directors who would best understand the heart of the story and how it should be presented with the sensitivity it deserves.