A wondrous, affecting snapshot of a most unlikely real-life Edward Scissorhands, this documentary centers around Pearl Fryar, a 66-year-old retired factory worker with no sculptural topiary training except a cursory three-minute demonstration. Filling his three-acre plot with plants cast off by a local nursery, and turning an abstract eye on them, Fryar has created a sprawling, personal garden that baffles plant pathologists and enthralls neighbors and art critics alike.
Co-directed by Brent Pierson and Scott Galloway, A Man Named Pearl is a simple tale of pay-it-forward positivism that swells the heart
without ever coming across as manipulative. The son of a hard-working
sharecropper, Fryar oozes basic decency, and it’s easy to see why his work — born of a simple remark, that “black people don’t keep up their yards,” while he and his wife were looking for a home many years ago — has had a
transformative effect on the small, rural town of Bishopville, in
dirt-poor Lee County, South Carolina. While there is plenty of footage of him at work, and discussing the methods that inform his craft, much of the movie is about Fryar’s faith, and affinity for children and service. Featuring beautiful, jazz-inflected original
compositions from Fred Story, this is an honest, feel-good story of
communal embrace, and outwardly expanding ripples of American-style goodwill. For more information, click here. (Shadow Distribution, unrated, 78 minutes)