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The Independent Critic

Paul Hughes
Charlo Johnson
Paul Hughes, Charlo Johnson
17 Mins.

 "Sober Minds" Hits the Festival Circuit 
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Charlo Johnson's short documentary Sober Minds has its world premiere tomorrow, August 12th, at the Oscar and BAFTA qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival, the first of four screenings already set for a film that should have no problem snagging a lengthy festival run for the Irish filmmaker. 

Sober Minds is an autobiographical doc short that showcases the beauty of urban wildlife utilizing beautifully realized lensing and simple, powerful anecdotes from Paul Hughes. The film's Irish Premiere will take place at Fingal Film & Arts Festival with an outdoor screening at Swords Castle followed by a screening at St. George, Utah's DocUtah International Documentary Film Festival in September and Tacoma Film Festival in October. For sure, that won't be the end of this beautiful film's run. 

While it first seems like Sober Minds is going to be your usual straightforward nature doc, it quickly becomes more courtesy of the compelling Hughes, a self-trained photographer who was "only ever good at scrapping" but who has become Ireland's most renowned wildlife photographer. The film is a delight in that such notoriety hasn't gone to Hughes' head and, instead, he's a delightfully humble chap who still seems fully in touch with what a gift photography has been for his life and for his own healing. 

The fact that Sober Minds passionately advocates for the healing power of urban wildlife by weaving into the fabric of its story such a remarkable photographer only enhances the film's beauty and power, a beauty and power that moves quickly yet gently in the film's 17-minute running time. As a writer who embarks on at least one lengthy journey annually in my wheelchair traveling the roads of small towns and cities at about 2-3 miles per hour, I found myself enchanted by director Charlo Johnson's observational filmmaking approach and casual interview style that allowed Hughes's words and photos to tell the story that needed to be told. 

For more information on Sober Minds, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic