May I Be Frank - Vegan Raw Film Review

Robin Collins | 11/14/10

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Read More: cafe gratitude, may i be frank, movie, Raw foodism

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Serendipity leads to transformation.

On the day, three-and-a-half years ago, that Frank Ferrante wandered into Café Gratitude on Ninth Avenue and Irving Street in San Francisco, he was 54 years old and weighed 287 pounds.

Depressed and lonely, Frank was a recovering drug and alcohol addict. He had a lousy relationship with his ex-wife and no relationship with his daughter.  He was pre- diabetic, had hepatitis C, drank 10 cups of espresso a day just to stay awake, and had been on anti-depressants for 10 years.

If you don't know the drill at Café Gratitude, the vegan raw food restaurant, every day they have a question.  On that day, it happened to be: "What do you want to do before you die?" which was delivered by Ryland Engelhart, the son of the owners.  

Frank's answer was, "I want to fall in love again, once more before I die, but I'm afraid nobody will love me with this body that I'm wearing." 

Touched by the honesty of the response, Ryland sensed a project. With his brother Cary, and his childhood friend Conor, he set out on mission. He knew he had story. Which led to the idea of a video. Which eventually became a movie entitled, "May I Be Frank." 

It would be funny, Ryland thought, if an Italian guy from Brooklyn, who pretty much speaks his mind in hilarious one liners, starts eating raw vegan food, loses some weight, and we video his responses.  Little did he know what he had. With anyone else, he might not have had much. With Frank as the "star," the movie is a gem.

The documentary chronicles what takes place when a goal is set and you have a support system of people around you who don't allow for failure. Frank literally put himself and his life into their hands and the three young men scheduled, schooled, and stood by Frank for a period of 42 days. He wasn't able to get away with anything. In fact, they taught him about a lot of things, including the power of love.    

The movie they wound up with is about the transformation of body, mind, and spirit.

This film is without pretense.  Raw in both food and emotion, the journey embarked upon by both sides is serious and funny, tense and touching, and transforming for everyone including the audience.

A contract was signed on Valentine's day. The journey began. The guys became Frank's spiritual cheerleaders. Each morning he downed a large glass of wheat grass juice.  Meals were vegan raw. There were daily affirmations.  

The timeframe of 42 days is derived from The Abounding River board game and book created by Café Gratitude owners Matthew and Terces Englehart about their practice in "being abundance."  

The first project was to cleanse Frank's kitchen by tossing almost everything in the fridge and cabinets.  Then came colonics, visits to a holistic practitioner,  breakthroughs with family members, and a whole lot more. The final week was filmed was at the Englehart's meditation and yoga retreat in Hawaii. By day 42 Frank was down to 157 pounds.  

Frank says, "I didn't lose the weight. I gave away what didn't belong to me." His life was changed forever. He's no longer on anti-depressants. He's writing a book. He still dislikes wheat grass juice. Did he find love? You'll have to see for yourself.


Read the whole story here.


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