Documentary about former St. Matthew parishioner 'renews hope for humanity'
CHARLOTTE — Charlie Petrizzo is blessed to be alive. And now, with the help of Episode 11 Studios in Charlotte, his amazing story of survival and healing is being shared with the world in a unique documentary entitled "Charlie's Scars." The film made its debut at the Asheville Film Festival in November, winning the Jury Award for Best Documentary, and it will be shown at the sixth annual Charlotte Film Festival on Tuesday, March 13.
"Hollywood itself could not have written a better script with what happened with this documentary," Petrizzo says.
Pictured left: Project2Heal founder Charlie Petrizzo is pictured with his dog Roger at his home in Waxhaw. Petrizzo hopes to expand the training facility to provide more companion dogs, free of charge, for children with special needs. (Photos provided by Charlie Petrizzo)
"Charlie's Scars" chronicles how Petrizzo was hit by a car just before his fifth birthday. It left him in a coma, paralyzed. He recovered following complex brain surgery. Then, 10 years later, the 15-year-old Petrizzo was accidentally electrocuted by 36,000 volts of electricity while he was on a ladder – leaving more than 70 percent of his body badly burned.
Both traumas left his body broken and scarred, but by the grace of God and the love of a canine companion, he healed over the course of time.
Petrizzo's journey of healing and faith features these events and his work with a ministry the former St. Matthew parishioner founded called Project2Heal, which breeds and trains Labrador Retrievers to work as skilled companion dogs for children with special needs.
In the documentary, Petrizzo's work with ICAN (Indiana Canine Assistance Network for training) takes him inside a prison, where inmates train some of his dogs. After realizing that his ministry is giving a second chance to a murderer, he is presented with challenges to his faith and the virtue of forgiveness that he and all Christians are called to – on a level he never imagined.
"Charlie's Scars" is the first documentary produced by Episode 11 Studios, which specializes in corporate videos. But when the producers were originally approached to work on some dog training videos for Project2Heal, they immediately knew there was an incredible story that needed to be told.
With just a director, an editor and a part-time sound technician, the studio set out with a budget of only $26,000 to make the documentary. Proceeds from the film will be donated to Project2Heal Ministries in hopes of buying more property in Waxhaw and expanding its training facility.
"Charlie's story in itself is inspiring," says Beth Sowell, the film's editor. "Charlie has a great story, but when we went into the prison and saw what was happening there .... We almost never hear about any rehabilitation or remorse or the progress people make while they're in there. It restored my faith in humanity.
"People can change – and they do."
Randy Davis, who directed "Charlie's Scars," has also been impacted by Petrizzo's story.
"It caused me to be less judgmental," Davis says. "It caused me to question why I believe what I believe and my outlook on other people's
behavior. It gave me a new sense of what being human is all about, what we're all capable of – good and bad. Through the process we made friends with people I never would ever have associated with. We also saw lots of healing of people who were involved in this story, on both sides of the fence, and it renewed my hope for humanity."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
Check it out
"CHARLIE'S SCARS" will be shown at 8:45 p.m. March 13 at the Epicentre in uptown Charlotte. For more about the Charlotte Film Festival and how to buy tickets to the screening of "Charlie's Scars," go to www.charlottefilmfestival.org.
VIEW THE "CHARLIE'S SCARS" TRAILER at www.charliesscars.com/trailer1.html.
PETRIZZO'S BOOK, "7 Lessons For Healing The Hurt," is now available at Amazon.com.
Justice Ginsburg calls Roe a disappointing decisionWASHINGTON, D.C. — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an abortion rights advocate, says that the court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 was overreaching and became too big a "target" for pro-life supporters. "That was my concern, that...
Annual audit shows number of abuse allegations in church dropped in 2012WASHINGTON, D.C. — The annual audit of diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church's "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" found a drop in the number of allegations, number of victims and number of offenders reported...
Nun, other activists found guilty of 'intending to harm' U.S. securityKNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An 83-year-old woman religious and two other peace activists were found guilty May 8 in a federal court in Knoxville of "intending to harm national security" by breaking into the nuclear weapon-producing facility and defacing...