Film Festival to Screen Documentary on Goodriches

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Sarah 'Sally' Goodrich
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A documentary about the Goodrich family's efforts in building peaceful pursuits in Afghanistan after the loss of their son in the 2001 terrorist attacks will be shown as a work-in-progress at this year's Berkshire International Film Festival.

A 45-minute section of "Axis of Good: A Story From 9/11" by producer and director Rick Derby will be screened on Sunday, May 17, at 4 p.m. at the Triplex Cinema. This the first time the film festival has screened a work in progress.

The film chronicles the efforts of Donald and Sarah "Sally" Goodrich of Bennington, Vt., to build a school for girls in Loghar, Afghanistan, to honor their son Peter Goodrich, who died aboard United Airlines Flight 175.

Don, a North Adams attorney, and Sally Goodrich, a Title 1 coordinator for the North Adams School District, created the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Trust Fund, which has helped raise money to support a multitude of missionary projects in Afghanistan, as well as sponsor Afghan students to study in area schools.

Goodriches and much of the documentary crew have strong roots in the Berkshires, including Derby, a native and a graduate of Wahconah Regional High School.

Derby said he was inspired by a story he read about Goodriches in The Berkshire Eagle in 2004.

"The work they were doing embodies an expression of humanity that I felt and wanted to be part of. I believe others would also be inspired by Don and Sally. It was essential that their story reach the largest possible audience," Derby said. "Five years and 400 hours of footage later, we're delighted to share a bit of Don and Sally's remarkable and emotional journey."

The Goodrich’s interest in Afghanistan came from Peter's childhood friend and neighbor, Marine Maj. Rush Filson of Williamstown.  In August 2004, Filson was stationed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

A week into his first deployment, he delivered donations to a school of 300 students that had eight teachers, but almost no school supplies, no roof and a principal who was receiving death threats. Filson wrote an e-mail home asking his mother to send school supplies. The Goodriches read his poetic request and discovered a cause that both served the spirit of their son's life and would loosen the grip of unrelenting grief that had engulfed them.

"Axis of Good" also focuses on Sally Goodrich's efforts to bridge cultural divides. The film tries to present more than a simple story of hope and inspiration; it seeks to capture the invisible connections between nations that appear at deadly odds.

The Goodriches have been frequently interviewed and honored for their efforts. Sally Goodrich will receive an honorary degree for her humanitarian work at this year's commencement at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
Derby graduated has worked as a producer, director, editor and writer in documentary film, news, and independent and studio feature films for more than 25 years. Co-producers Mike Calvin and Robert Wedge, both graduates of MLCA, have dedicated endless hours documenting the Goodrich family, often spending holidays at their home.  Jason Stant, also a co-producer and a  Williamstown native, brings his many years of production experience to the documentary from dramatic television series, to numerous feature films and commercials. Professor David Edwards of Williams College has been a consultant to the film.

Derby and the Goodriches will attend the screening and answer questions afterward.

The annual film festival will screen 70 shorts, films and documentaries from May 14 to 17 at the Triplex and Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. For a full schedule, click here.

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