'Leaves of the Tree' kicks off Worldfest in Houston

By BY JOE FRIAR
April 8, 2015 at 3:24 p.m.

The film opens in Segesta, Sicily, where a shepherd and his son discover a gravely wounded soldier.

The year is 1808, and the injured man is Lord William Spencer, an admiral who had been stabbed by a thief while studying in the ruins of an ancient temple.

The pair save Spencer's life by placing the leaves from an olive tree on his wound, which miraculously heals the young man.

It's the first clue that this mystical tree possesses amazing healing powers.

From there, the film jumps to present day Houston where we meet patent lawyer Patrick Messina (Eric Roberts) and his wife, Sweetness (Sean Young). The once powerful lawyer has almost retired because of health reasons, but he's asked to work on one more case for a new client, Dr. Ferramonti (Federico Castelluccio) of Sicily.

The doctor claims to have a medicine made from the leaves of a centuries-old olive tree that can cure any illness.

He reaches out to MaxMedica Pharmaceutical and they send a team to Sicily to do research and investigate this phenomenal tree. Patrick takes along his wife, Sweetness, and they are joined by daughter, Danielle (Sarah Sebastiana), who works in the research department, and Roberta Ryan (Marisa Brown), the head of the cosmetics division.

Veteran actor Armand Assante plays Patrick's best friend, Joe, in the film and Kresh Novakovic (brother of the director Ante Novakovic) is featured as a former seminarian who works to protect the tree from outsiders including a secret brotherhood of priests.

Based on the book "Kindness for the Damned" by D.J. Healey (a resident of Sugarland), this beautifully shot film is a blend of religion, faith and science with spectacular views of the Sicilian landscape.

"Leaves of the Tree" will kick off the 2015 Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival on Friday, April 10, as the opening night film.

Actress Sean Young will be on hand to accept the Remi Career Achievement Award, previous recipients have included Catherine Deneuve, Randal Kleiser, Timothy Dalton and Michael York.

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Houston Film Critics Society and juror at the Victoria Independent Film Festival. He reviews films every Friday on Hit Radio 104.7 KVIC. Contact Joe at jfriar95@gmail.com.


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