‘Iron Family’

Fresh Coast documentary features Iron River plays

“Iron Family” is on the list of films to be shown at this year’s Fresh Coast Film Festival in Marquette. The documentary features Jazmine Faries of Iron River, who has been writing plays that are produced in the small Upper Peninsula town. (Photo courtesy of ironfamilyfilm.com)

MARQUETTE — The fifth annual Fresh Coast Film Festival, set for Thursday through Sunday in venues throughout Marquette, will feature many outdoor-related themes, but those themes can come in many forms — even one that involves actor Matthew McConaughey.

“Iron Family” is a 90-minute documentary about Jazmine Faries, who isn’t letting Down syndrome stop her from being creative.

According to a synopsis at ironfamilyfilm.com, the 32-year old woman with Down syndrome is obsessed with soap operas, Barbie dolls and McConaughey.

“For the past five summers, her family has performed her original stage plays for a small audience in their town of Iron River,” it reads. “In this sixth season, we follow the creative process of writing, rehearsing and performing the play. Family bonds between her brother, Chad, and her mother, Kate, are strengthened and put to the test by the mishaps and chaos of coordinating a production with limited resources.

“Along the way we see Jazmine’s personal struggle for independence, her yearning for a romantic partner and how a single spark of creativity can spread joy throughout a community.”

Jazmine Faries said she took on the project to “take her own take” on her experience.

“I thought it’d be really kind of cool, inspired by all these TV shows,” she said.

Thus began her play, “The Double Life.”

The director of “Iron Family” is Patrick Longstreth, who was visual effects supervisor for three seasons of “Adam Ruins Everything” on truTV. “Iron Family” is his first feature documentary.

Jazmine Faries has been writing and directing this play with her family and friends going on seven years now, he said.

“The play has kind of a running storyline about her celebrity obsessions,” Longstreth said. “So, it stars Matthew McConaughey as her husband. In this season, she cheats on him with Mark Wahlberg and gets pregnant, and a lot of drama ensues.”

Longstreth plays John Travolta, while Chad Faries plays McConaughey.

“We throw it together pretty quickly every summer with very little resources in this small community, and the community kind of rallies behind her and helps us,” Chad Faries said, with the family renting the Windsor Center in Iron River for the play.

It’s all part of making Jazmine’s dream happen.

“There’s all kinds of other things that you learn about the family and love and disappointment and successes and all of that, that go with anything,” Chad Faries said. “I think it’s a beautiful portrait of the Upper Peninsula as well.”

In fact, he said when he talked with Longstreth about his vision for the documentary, he told him Iron River and the U.P. should be a character in itself.

So, anything the family could do to make that happen would be “fantastic,” he said.

The family has connections to Marquette. Jazmine was born there in 1987, while her brother Chad, who now lives in Savannah, Georgia, graduated from Marquette Senior High School in 1989.

Longstreth said they made a road trip to Marquette in the middle of the film to meet people who are important to Jazmine and Chad.

“We feature some beautiful scenery around Marquette of the ore docks and just the downtown area as well as Presque Isle,” Longstreth said. “You kind of get a nice sense of the beauty of Marquette.”

Putting on Jazmine Faries’ plays sometimes comes with the same challenges that come with any stage production.

“Some people drop out at the list minute,” Chad Faries said.

Fortunately, Longstreth — the filmmaker — stepped in.

“He had to turn over his camera and hop on stage and be John Travolta,” he said.

“Iron Family,” which recently won Best Documentary Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, will be shown at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Peter White Public Library and at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Upper Peninsula Masonic Center in Marquette.

For more information about the Fresh Coast Film Festival, visit www.freshcoastfilm.com.


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