Film festival unites cultures

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By Johnathan Kroncke

Ballet Folklorico dancer Veronica Grajeda performs with her troupe during the Riverside International Film Festival closing ceremonies. (Chris Ullyott)

By Johnathan Kroncke

They say baseball is America’s national pastime, but for two men it became the time of their lives.

The Riverside International Film Festival played host to independent filmmakers and the fruits of their labor from Feb. 17 – 26 at the Metropolitan University Village Cinema.

Among the festival’s many features from around the world, one American documentary stood out as being a truly touching story about a son and his love for his father.

Inspired by Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams,” Robert Cochrane (“Playaz Court”) directed, edited and produced his documentary, “Boys of Summer.”

Robert and his father had always planned on seeing all 30 major league baseball parks together.

Unfortunately, as happens with most people, things come up in daily life and their trip would have to be put on hold. But they would do it.

In 2001, Robert’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an illness which affects all motor coordination and even speech.

Robert could already see the signs of deterioration and knew they didn’t have much time.

That is why, in the summer of 2004, the two embarked on a two- month, 30 city, multi-national trip to visit every major league ballpark from Fenway Park in Boston to Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

With no sort of corporate backing, the Cochranes would have to pay their own way and they did so through the use of tailgate parties held in stadium parking lots as well as the support of some incredibly generous people met along the way, some of whom were also stricken with Parkinson’s disease.

The most remarkable thing about this film is that, while it does have some editing flaws and sound quality issues in a couple of scenes, it shows the extraordinary bond hat these two men have.

The love between father and son spills off the screen with every scene of them playing catch outside of a stadium or playing host to a tailgate party in order to fund their amazing journey.

Every dime of profit made from the tailgate parties and from the angels who supported them along the way was in turn donated to reputable organizations for Parkinson’s research. They kept nothing but the memories they now share.

Interestingly, because it was the premiere showing of “Boys of Summer,” Robert and his father were in the audience and later answered questions from some of the audience members.

As they talked, one could almost see the honest and deep connection that the two have which, according to them, has only increased since their journey.

Robert is trying to garner some attention from major film distribution companies in order to get his message into the mainstream and has set up a Web site for his movie.

If you would like to learn more about Parkinson’s disease or just read about the film and its makers, you can go to

The RIFF not only hosts American documentaries but movies of all types from around the world, as far away as South Korea and India.

Some of what can be found are short films, lasting no more than five or 10 minutes while others are feature-length movies.

The other interesting aspect about the festival is that they run not only films from established independent film makers but also student films as well.

It is a unique chance to see what other cultures have to offer.

To learn more about the RIFF and to see which films won, go to

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