BY KAREN BOSSICK
Before there was the Women’s March, there was Charlie.
Charlie Hardy was a 75-year-old priest who had lived in a cardboard shack in a Venezuelan slum for eight years ministering to the poor.
But he didn’t let that stop him as he embarked on an extraordinary struggle to shake up the American political establishment.
Reed Lindsay, who grew up in Ketchum, followed Hardy for two years as Hardy ran for the U.S. Senate, pitting his $400-a-month Social Security check, his good cheer and common sense values against the $3 million war chest of Wyoming incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi.
And Lindsay will show “Charlie vs. Goliath,” the film he made of that, at this week’s Sun Valley Film Festival. The feature-length film will be screened at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. Both Lindsay and Hardy, now 78, will be on hand for a Q&A following its showing.
Lindsay likens Hardy to a 21st century Don Quixote: A man who refused to take contributions from special interests. A man who cast his hat in the ring for Senate, even though the red state of Wyoming had not elected a Democratic senator since 1970.
“At its heart, ‘Charlie vs. Goliath’ is a story about the power of hope, even when all seems lost, and the importance of optimism no matter how bleak the circumstances,” said Lindsay, the son of Barbi Reed and a Community School alum.
Hardy decided to run for the Senate in 2014 and the House in 2016 after he was shocked to see the homelessness, hunger and poverty that had cropped up in his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyo., upon his return to the United States.
The son of Austrian emigrants who managed to send all five of their children to school on the wages Hardy’s father earned working for the Union Pacific Railroad, he was so shocked to see that people could no longer make ends meet, even when working two or three jobs.
His supporters responded, sending him donations of $1, $5, even $10. A 100-year-old woman donated $100, along with a bag of freshly dug carrots for his volunteers. And the “Wyoming Tribune Eagle,” one of the state’s leading newspapers, gave him its endorsement.
Lindsay premiered the 78-minute film at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival on Feb. 19 where it received a standing ovation.
“People respond to the film and its message,” he said. “This is a particularly relevant time for the film. People are cynical about the political process, feeling there’s no way to change things. I think the film’s inspiring some of these people, making them want to get engaged and involved.”
While Lindsay has seen the film more times than he can count in the process of editing and reviewing it, he notices something different in it every time he watches it.
“The film has a lot of humorous moments,” he said. “I find myself laughing at the absurdity of things. I think it can help boost spirits, inject a little positivity and passion among many of its viewers.
“We both hope the film ends up being a useful tool for people and organizations trying to radically change our political system,” he added. “After all, it’s about much more than an election. It’s about the importance of fighting for a better world no matter how daunting the challenge.”
Lindsay, a former war correspondent in Libya, won an Emmy for his contribution to HBO’s “In Tahir Square.” He won a Gracie award for his short film “Fists of Fury,” about a teenage girl striving to be a boxer in Kolkata, India—a film that was screened at the Family of Woman Film Festival.
His production company Belly of the Beast is based in Ketchum.
He is already at work on his next film—a piece about baseball in Cuba.
“I spent a long time living and working in Latin America. And I played baseball growing up. So I’m marrying those two loves,” he said. “And I’m blown away by how festive the game is in Cuba.”
WANT TO SEE “CHARLIE VS. GOLIATH?
If you don’t have a Sun Valley Film Festival pass, you can buy individual tickets for $10 at Festival Headquarters at the Warfield Distillery & Brewery in Ketchum or online at www.sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.