Ordinary Joe (USA, 79 mins.)
Directed by: Carlo Gennarelli
Meet Joe Sciacca, a beer drinking, blue-collar roofer and Vietnam War veteran from Long Island, New York. Contrary to appearances this 'Ordinary Joe' has a life purpose that proves to be anything but mundane. Driven by complex motives, Joe annually returns to Vietnam, traveling its back alleys and country roads seeking out the poor, diseased and disabled, delivering to them his own brand of aid and hope. By adopting a 'do-it-yourself' attitude this brash New Yorker has become an unlikely champion to a far away and seemingly forgotten people.
The film follows Joe as he embarks on a multi-week trek from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, traveling on motorbikes, buses, taxis and trains, visiting hundreds of needy people in between. The images are both beautiful and disturbing, providing the audience a view of Vietnam not often seen by the western eye and introducing them to afflicted characters they will not soon forget.
Along the way 'Ordinary Joe' reveals the plight of Vietnam’s poor and disabled who are ignored by a health care system that is out of their reach. It also revisits the damage done by the deployment of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, an issue that continues to plague new generations of Vietnamese. Ultimately this film poses the question; who does altruism benefit the most, the receiver or the giver?
In the final analysis, this documentary is the story of an ordinary man and his singular effort at accomplishing an extraordinary mission: to change the lives of hundreds of people and in the process find a meaning to his own.