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Friendship's Field (1995)

| Drama, Family | 1995 (USA)
Set on a rural farm during the Sixties, this film tells the story of Ira and Oscar, two kids who stay faithful companions despite the racism and prejudice towards Oscar on the farm.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ira
...
Oscar
Randall King ...
George (as Randy King)
Carolyn Hurlburt ...
Jean
...
Jane (as Melissa Moor)
Jenniffer Buckalew ...
Afton (as Jennifer Buckalew)
Jessica Giauque ...
Rene
Maria Carr ...
Oscar's Mother
Mark Hardy ...
Marcus
Benjamin Hoppe ...
Blake
Dallen Gettling ...
Todd
Aaron Lee Syrett ...
Randy
Randi-Lynn Strong ...
Little Jane
...
Older Ira (as Nancy Riddle)
Tommy Shallenberger ...
Bus
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Storyline

Iris (who goes by the name "Ira") and her family live on a beet farm in 1965. She is almost 12, which means she has only one last summer until she has to work with her older sisters on the farm. Due to the increased acreage of the farm this year, Ira's father hires a group of Mexican immigrants to help out with the farm. Among them is Oscar, a boy close to Ira's age. They spend the summer together, teaching each other many lessons along the way, while trying to overcome the prejudice that Oscar and his family experiences from the rest of the town. Written by page8701

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A place where kindness triumphs over differences.

Genres:

Drama | Family

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Release Date:

1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der fremde Freund  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Ira McClaren meets Jim at the beginning of school and asks him where he is from, he answers "American Falls", which is one of the filming locations. See more »

Soundtracks

Friendship's Field
Lyrics by Don Stirling & Forrest S. Baker III
Music by Sam Cardon & Forrest S. Baker III
Sung by Stacie Smith Shurtliff
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User Reviews

 
One of the Very Best Films You Will Ever Ser
30 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

.Other reviewers have already done an excellent job of covering this film's worthwhile messages and themes. That said, I'm not often fond of "family" films because, all too often, they are unrealistic and too sugary sweet. Friendship's Field is none of that. Moreover, it is graced with excellent direction, fine cinematography, and unbelievably great acting. For these reasons taken together, over time Friendship's Field has become my favorite film, and like most people reading this review, I've seen many really fine films.

Let's talk about the acting first, as this is the most outstanding feature of this film. Although every single actor in the film was excellent, I'll mention only some. Jonathan Hernandez plays a solid role as the likable young Mexican boy, Oscar, who becomes a close summertime friend with the film's lead character, Ira. His role is complex, his mood often flashing between a cheerful disposition with a winsome smile, to being deeply hurt by the racist events that surround him. Jonathan plays his part so well the viewer quickly forgets this boy is acting. Oscar's mother and brother, played superbly by Maria Carr and Mark Hardy, though their parts are shorter, add a lot of depth to the film.

Ira's three older sisters, Jane, Afton, and Rene, very well-played by Melissa Moor, Jennifer Buckalew, and Jessica Giauque, respectively, capture the time and place of the film in their own way and very believably for their ages. Dialogue with the girls is not window dressing but instead adds quite a bit of dimension, especially to the lead character, Ira. Melissa has a longer, more developed role in the script and, as the oldest child, appeals in a casual rather than heavy-handed way as a good role model for her other sisters. Melissa easily convinces us of her character's integrity and sense of responsibility, and is particularly good at facial expressions that often convey more meaning in the film than a lot more words in the script would. Ira's parents, played by Randy King and Carolyn Hurlburt, show patient restraint with all their children.

Finally, let's talk about Ira, a very complex role played brilliantly by Kate Maberly, a truly gifted person of extraordinary talent. As a young person, Kate is better known for her exceptional performance in "The Secret Garden," but I personally think Friendship's Field was her very best performance to date. In this role, there's no doubt whatsoever about the fact Ira is a sun-kissed short-hair tomboy of the first order. Ira is on a journey learning about life, some of it good and some not so good, which will likely be a journey that doesn't end: "life is like a river." Close to her patient parents, Ira is at an age where she explores outside her family now, and develops unlikely friendships, like with Oscar. Ira lives on a farm in Idaho, so the energetic, athletic kid regularly gets a little dust and dirt on her well broken-in clothes. In spite of her friskiness, Ira is often quiet and introspective. Although a child, she's a real person, with all the complications of a real person. Overall, the character is drawn with a warmth that can melt the coldest heart.

So what makes Kate's performance so special in this role? For starters, the role is so natural for Kate she just seems to be playing herself. Maybe that's really the case here, maybe this role wasn't so much of an act for the real Kate Maberly. Second, one of Kate's greatest strengths as an actor is that she doesn't overact, and this tomboy role is one that could have been very easily overacted, even by other good actors. Now, Kate is British, and I've heard her talk in interviews and in British films with a delightful Surrey accent. The best actors can manage taking on believable dialects and accents, which is what Kate does here. We might say she delivers her lines with a flawless American dialect of English, which she does. But it goes even farther, because there happen to be many accents of American English. Idaho is one of the Rocky Mountain states, these states have a unique sound to them, and Kate nails that in this film. Kate intentionally delivers one line in the film with a charming Scots accent, and she's obviously got that down, too. (Is there anything this girl can't do?) In the entire film, young Kate Maberly never missed once on the delivery of a line, an expression, a motion, or emotion. Her performance was perfect throughout. Other actors, including the high-paid Hollywood superstars today, should watch Kate Maberly's performance in Friendship's Field; some of them could learn a few things they may not have known about acting.

This film did not direct itself. Bruce Niebaur directed it and, as the acting attests, he was able to bring out the very best of every performer, with the result being an amazingly good film. Following Friendship's Field, Kate would later play in "Gulliver's Travels," which also included the legendary Omar Sharif, and Bruce Niebaur would direct Kate again in "Mysteries of Egypt," in which the girl appears as Mr. Sharif's granddaughter. These later opportunities for Kate are likely not mere coincidences, but undoubtedly stem from her incomparable talent at a young age.

My only complaint about Friendship's Field is that it could have been somewhat longer, but I'm sure the budget had something to do with that. More scenes with Ira and Oscar would have always been welcome. It would have also been interesting to develop the characters of Rene and Afton a little more, as was done for Jane.

Friendship's Field is not going to turn the world upside-down. It's not going to blow you away. But, it has become my favorite film, it's remarkable for its well-directed acting, and it's great entertainment. Give it a try, it's well worth it.


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