Forget reality TV. You want to see real Americans living real lives? Then head for the theaters on July 2 and check out America's Heart and Soul, an uplifting new Disney film depicting, for the most part, ordinary Americans who are extraordinary in their everyday lives. Veteran filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg piled a small crew into a van and hit the road, traveling across the country, meeting and filming people along the way. Twenty-four of those stories—brief but poignant vignettes into the lives of some of the most fascinating people you could ever meet—make up this soul-stirring, heartwarming film. We wanted to get to know the man behind it. Schwartzberg, 54, has collected human interest stories for years, not knowing exactly what he'd do with them. Then it hit him: He'd tell their stories in a feature-length movie. The result is a wonderful film that the whole family will enjoy.
What did you think of the film?
Louis Schwartzberg: I like to do films that celebrate life. In this particular film, I'm sort of looking at both landscape and people and the relationship between the two—and I think they both celebrate life. I also love stories where people have overcome adversity and yet have a lot of hope and inspiration. My parents were Holocaust survivors, and that drives me a little bit, because even though they went through that, they still had a lot of passion and love.
The ultimate goal in this film was to see if I could get people to open up their hearts and talk about their passions and wisdom at the same time. And that's a real tough thing to do. To get people to open up is like a miracle, but to have them open up and have your lighting and cameras ready to roll is an equally difficult task.1
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