Written and directed by filmmaker Chad Hartigan This is Martin Bonner delights the 2013 Sundance Film Festival audiences with full-house screenings and interactive Q & A (question and answer) sessions following the screenings. It is no wonder Hartigan's film wins the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Best of Next Audience Award. When asked, "Have you seen anything good yet?" The answer to nine out of ten people mentioned the film This is Martin Bonner without hesitation. This festival street buzz is exactly the kind of talk an Independent filmmaker hopes to hear.
Hartigan taps into the essence of Independent filmmaking and genuinely shares a narrative of something abstract to define character. Hartigan's individual style takes an interesting and believable approach to relationship building and self-discovery. Hartigan's slow moving cinematography plays a smart role in the gentleness of discovering the person of Martin Bonner (Paul Eenhoorn).
The middle-aged Martin Bonner is in need of a new lease on life after declaring bankruptcy. An East Coast resident for several decades, Martin leaves his old life behind and moves to Reno, Nevada for a volunteer job helping released prisoners transition to a life outside the penitentiary. His adult children are deeply concerned for his well-being and commit to regular phone calls while Martin transitions to a new existence. To combat the natural loneliness living in a foreign place, Martin takes up a couple regular activities on the weekends: speed dating and working as a soccer referee.
Martin's first attempt to assist a released prisoner is cause for concern but Martin holds his own. His next client Travis Holloway (Richard Arquette), released after serving 12 years in prison finds it hard to adjust to his new life. Martin goes the extra mile to befriend Travis in his time of need Martin's help is taken advantage of. Reality bites and each man is at a crossroad to determine the importance friendship will play in their new lives.