Adam Schomer is the featured filmmaker for the 2015 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. Schomer is being recognized for his documentaries that both excite and reveal.
An adventurous documentarian is who Schomer is now, but that’s not where he starts nor finishes. After graduating from Cornell in 1997, Schomer’s adventuring and risk-taking began to evolve. First, he headed to Ecuador to learn Spanish and play soccer. After all, he was an all-Ivy League soccer player.
Since then he has learned and practices yoga, taught it to the Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer team and began writing comedy at Second City. In 2010, he went to India to study meditation and his teacher invited him on a motorcycle trip through the Himalayas, which was the beginning of his documentary-making career.
“The Highest Pass” was Schomer’s first documentary and has won several awards since its release.
“I fell in love with the adventure and the filmmaking. It’s what you learn making a film,” he said. “But I’m learning to seize life. There’s something bigger than ourselves.”
His work at Second City and work on children’s films were important contributions to his apprenticeship. “I was learning the craft of story telling through film, setting a pace,” Schomer said.
However, Idyllwild 2015 will feature Schomer’s two most recent documentaries: “One Little Pill” and “The Polygon.” All of his films have a common denominator, “One thing I try to look for and find is a journey and follow it in real life.”
“One Little Pill” is about the Sinclair method for treating alcohol abuse. In contrast to Alcoholics Anonymous, which relies on conscious and mental discipline to avoid alcohol, the Sinclair method is medicinal. Naltrexone has been demonstrated to reduce the craving for alcohol and to block the effects of opiate medication, according to the National Institute of Health. Taken in large doses, it can cause liver disease.
But Schomer and his producer, who financed the film through crowd funding, wanted to bring attention to this method, which has been kept under wraps for many years. Actress Claudia Christian has been a proponent of the Sinclair method, since it saved her life in 2009.
“For most people, there is only one way to stop alcoholism — abstention. But this opens the eyes to another,” Schomer said.
“The Polygon” takes the view to a Kazakhstan village that lies just 18 kilometers from a former Soviet nuclear test site — Semipalatinsk. More than 400 nuclear test were conducted at Semipalatinsk test site, also known as “The Polygon.” Many of the tests were above ground.
The soil and water contain radiation and these people live with this condition daily. And according to the film’s production site, “Those that live near this area everyday battle with high cancer rates, leukemia, deformations, irradiated food, irradiated water and even irradiated DNA which passes on from generation to generation.“
When asked if he had any trepidations spending two months in the area filming, Schomer replied, “Yes, absolutely. I may have chosen to make the stakes higher. It was a real big risk to go there.
“We took a lot of precautions. We didn’t drink the water and were always buying bottled water,” Schomer explained. “But those people live there and have high cancer rates.”
Idyllwild 2015 will not be Schomer’s first time in Idyllwild. He’s been here before and showed his first film, “The Highest Pass.” Afterwards, one of the audience arranged from him to meet Stephen Savage, the IIFC director.
“Idyllwild is special. I like the town’s energy and it’s a pleasure to return,” Schomer said.
For those who want to experience Schomer’s adventures, his films will be shown starting at 11:45 a.m., Friday, Jan 9, at the Rustic Theatre.