Summa Short Film: “Danny and Annie”

Fresh off announcing a recurring feature last week — the sort of think that’s colloquially known in my house as “Papa biting off more than he can chew” — I’m apparently (and recklessly) ready for another. Starting today (and every subsequent Monday), I’m going to post a short film. Because I love shorts. And because they’re under-appreciated. And because it’s my Internet. Or at least my corner.

Fellow Patheosi and titler extraordinary Tom McDonald, whose “App-o-the-Morning” posts are so brilliantly monikered, suggested “Summa Short Films.”

I loved it instantly.

So all praise for this series’ title must be laid at his feet. (Which is where all blame belong, as well, if that’s your fancy.) The content, though? Praise and/or blame for that lies entirely with me. Even I — timid and evasive as ever — would not willingingly to visit the consequences of my short-film suggesting upon a friend.

The inaugural short is “Danny and Annie,” from the folks at StoryCorps.

I’ve shared SC with folks in the past, and the response is pretty much universal: “Pass the Kleenex. STAT!” “An independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives,” their shorts aren’t particularly dazzling from a visual standpoint. But in terms of capturing and realizing their subjects, they’re astonishing. With a few strokes (and a few carefully-selected audio snippets), StoryCorps makes you feel like you’ve known and loved these people your whole life.

You’ve been warned.

Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie, came to StoryCorps to recount their twenty-seven-year romance. As they remember their life together from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer, these remarkable Brooklynites personify the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of everyday people when we take the time to listen.

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There’s an incredible sweetness here; a sweetness and affection that keeps the story’s details from stinging quite as much as you might expect.

Over at their site, StoryCorps has a “Seven-Year Update” recording from Annie, along with a few pictures of the real-life Danny and Annie. And here’s a story NPR’s “Morning Edition” did on Annie just a few months ago.

This year they would have celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. “And I miss my letters from Danny; I do,” Annie says. “But after Danny died, I had received 1,300 letters of condolences. I mean, I got letters as far away as Beijing, China, or Paris, France:

My English is not too well please excuse me, I wish to send my condolences.

“So I would read one a day because Danny wrote me a love letter every day,” Annie says.

Attribution(s): All artwork, publicity images, and stills are the property of their respective creators and/or distributors, and are intended for editorial use only.

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About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.