Feature Documentary | 4k / DV / 8mm
New Zealand | Amsterdam | Canada
Visionary youth pathways facilitator Jim Horton and filmmaker son, Jay, share an intimate family portrait of love, life and legacy. However, when Jim is diagnosed with Motor Nuron Disease, and Jay's daughter questions her birth gender, life and legacy are cast into question.
Depression, addiction, anger and suicide are issues facing young and old in our challenging times. In Fathers and Sons, we explore how exploring ‘healthy masculinity’ through a rite-of-passage event can support an empowered transition into Manhood.
Told through the lens of first-time director Jay Horton, this film draws on a lifetime of archives and 20 years of interviews that share his father Jim’s visionary mind and poetic heart to create an initiatory event held in a natural setting on the fringe of New Zealand's Able Tasman National Park.
"Many years ago, in a circle of trees, a fire was lit. It led many men and women to its flame of truth and council. A movement was birthed and a program for young people was seeded..."
Kia Ora, I am Jay Horton, father of Koa and Fox, son of Jim. I want to tell you a story of my father and as a father, I want to tell you a story as a son, and for my children. I want to tell you a universal story of change and transition.
My father, Jim loved to speak poetry into moments of depth and transition, ritual spaces, into gatherings of men and boys becoming men. He physically wasn't able to speak much in the last couple years because of his condition - which frustrated him intensely - he always had so much to say and was known for his oratory power and skill.
Life framed gently,
with raw authenticity,
shared as an offering.
I can only tell my story... now!
Everything else is
... an interpretation
... a manipulation
How to begin is the first question.
How much to reveal is the second.
What questions to ask is the last...
I wrote these words to my father a year or two ago about this film and my journey with it. The film is based on the book that we produced together after he found out he had Motor Neurone disease in 2014. The book is called 'Marking Life's Stages: The Mystery of Rites of Passage' and details the development of the multi day residential program for fathers and sons; TRACKS - a modern day initiation into manhood - a Rite of Passage.
Now I am 45 and with my father having died under a year ago, I am again seeing the breadth of influence of his life in a new way. The evolution of the work that was seeded in the early 90’s, men's groups and community events that he included me in as a teenager. These events were wild and explorative and after some years the men on those events noted that there really was a need for an outreach program for boys.
And so 'Rites of Passage' were reborn, right around the time I was trying to define what it is to be a man for myself as an early twenty year old. I joined into the program with my passion for photography and video and this film began.
If I can share my and my fathers story in way that is interesting, heartfelt and authentic, as a carrier for the wider story of Rites of Passage, of us all making the transition to healthy adult relationships with the world... Then hopefully my questions will have answered themselves, like one of my fathers favourite poems by Rilke says...
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
Join us on the journey as we weave a new collective dreaming that is Rites of Passage...
Pictured: Jay Horton (Director) Rich Humpheys (Producer) Danielle Marriott (Prod. Assit)
Producer Statement | Rich Humphreys
I first met Jay Horton, back in 2017 at 'Rising Sons' - a rite of passage campout event held at the Treefields event park, on the land at Tui Community. It was my first real step into a facilitating 'container' and together with my then 9-year-old son Rai, we journeyed to a new place in our relationship.
I was taken by the authenticity of the whole weekend and the unique connection between Jim and Jay. Mentioning of my desire to assist in 'sharing the story' if the timing is right. Fast-forward through three-years of my own journey in the 'Men's Movement' and Jim's courageous non-assisted suicide and we have arrived at that time.
Globally, we are seeing people spiralling back to the centre of their being; analysing what is really important, and the future they want to create for themselves, their families and their communities. FATHERS & SONS provides a really amazing case study of people who've been actively exploring Youth Pathways facilitation and sharing it with the world.
Many of the themes which come up in this film will resonate strongly with fathers of teenage boys especially... How can you prepare your son to be a strong, empowered and authentic individual?
"With Jim and Jay's intimate story and AMAZING archival footage, there is a REALLY strong personal story arch to structure a 90-minute feature documentary."
This is a film for fathers; this is a film for sons, and this is a film for people who have a father or son in their life. From suicide and depression to growth and empowerment there are so many important threads we are weaving into the narrative. Our desire is to connect with a universal audience and build on our existing connections to create a really strong impact campaign around the release and support rites of passage programs to find a place in our modern world.
"We have not to venture the journey alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us, we have only to follow the thread of the hero's journey."
Joseph Campbell - American Mythologist
MARKING LIFE STAGES - THE MYSTERIES OF RITES OF PASSAGE
The Fathers & Sons feature film has its genesis in a 2008 book by Don Bowak that was built on by Jim and Jay Horton to became a powerful resource to inspire and empower people through Rites of Passage. It is a fantastic tool for any individual or group interested in this important work.
Marking Life Stages shares true stories of change and lessons learned, to share in the co-creation and facilitation of Rites of Passage events has been a journey spanning years. Inspired by Australian Don Bowak's wonderful book of the same name, it has grown into so much more. It contains true personal stories of men and women and their journey to adulthood as well as a manual on how to create 'Rites of Passage' for your family or community.
Included within the pages are Don Bowaks original book of the same title. We have included key aspects of several of our teachers and mentors work including; Joseph Campbell, Bill Plotkin, Dr Arne Rubinstein, Michael Jude, Bret Stephenson. Also included in the book are stories from men and women involved with the work of inspiring young people as well as directly involved with TRACKS and TIDES programs. Please click the link below to purchase your copy directly from 'The Rites of Passage Foundation'.
'Tracks' is a multi-day process of initiation, challenge and growth that has gone on to impact thousands of families, since its inception in 2002.
The program is facilitated through the Rites of Passage foundation, and now links with a 'sister' program called 'Tides' and various Men's, Woman's, Elder's gatherings hosted in the purpose built 'Treefields' event park at Tui Community; a natural container on the fringe of the Able Tasman National park.
"My one main assumption in publishing this book is my belief that fathers and mothers want their children to grow into whole and healthy adults and to become a powerful force for good in our communities. If you are one of these parents or people searching for ways to achieve these outcomes then this resource is for you. In this book, through the medium of ancient and modern critical processes which have been proven down the years."
Jim Horton | Author & ROP Director