CLEVELAND-- A provocative documentary premiered in Cleveland Thursday night with special showings just in time for this Father’s Day weekend.
It’s titled Fatherhood 101: a simple title with a complex and compelling message.
“I think you have to save the fathers, which is gonna save the family, which is gonna save our children,” said Marquette Williams, the film’s director.
Williams is from Cleveland but has a successful film career in Hollywood.
Tired and frustrated watching the deterioration of families and fatherhood figures, he says he needed to produce this documentary.
Marquette is a loving father now, but experienced difficult times as a child.
“There was that time between 3 and 15 where there was no man in my home and I think those are the years particularly where young men need to be engaged by a father to lay a foundation,” said Williams.
The film is a collaboration of sorts with the Fatherhood Initiative to bring families closer together.
He chose Cleveland not only because it’s his hometown but because he says there’s work to be done.
“To be completely frank, the kids here need it,” said Williams.
He says there are millions of children in the world without a father figure in their lives with deadly consequences.
According to his research, a child without a father is 75 times more likely to be killed.
He calls fatherhood, the most important job—that men often give up and rarely discuss it.
He hopes the film will inspire dads to take a more active role in their children’s lives.
“No matter what color you are, no matter how educated you are no matter what your religious beliefs are, we’re men who’ve become parents; we’re men who will hopefully become good parents,” said Williams.
He interviewed 150 dads, from the very famous, to political leaders and regular guys.
Attorney and businessman Mark Minor George is in the film with his twin brother.
He said, “I think men need to be more emotional and deal with who they are and what they need to do instead of rely on other people or the quick, easy fix.”
George called the experience cathartic especially hearing his 5-year-old son speak about his dad.
When asked, “What is a father?” Mark Minor George Junior responded, “What’s a father mean? (pause) It means a lot; it means love.”
The elder George became teary-eyed just thinking of his son's response.
“I got emotional cause it makes you feel good how he feels; but it makes you want to be better,” said Attorney George.
Another father featured in the film is music producer, engineer and father of four Zakee Ali.
He didn’t have a strong father figure in his life as a child and now works tirelessly on building a strong relationship and safe home for his kids.
He said, “Knowing we all make mistakes and hoping that gives them strength to keep going, as a father, do all you can while you can.”
These men are clearly already great dads. They hope the documentary will inspire dialogue and discussions among other fathers and change lives.
Marquette said even if the parents break up the father must stay in their children’s lives and be amicable to their mother.
He said protecting children is one of the most important issues facing this nation.
But he said it can only happen if everyone works together.
“The film is to say these men care; these men want to be involved. Let’s make a father-friendly environment so they can do that,” said Williams.
Fatherhood 101 premiered at Tower City Cinemas in downtown Cleveland Thursday.
Special screenings were held Saturday and Sunday. It will also be shown June 17 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
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