October 28, 2018
Inspired footsteps can lead one to journey far from even that which imagination can conjure.
Take the route of Jeremiah Caleb.
In search of his late father’s roots, Caleb undertook a 40-day pilgrimage to his father’s homeland of India. He wanted to write a book and did. He came back with film footage that led to the documentary, “Coming Home.”
See the Bristol premier of “Coming Home” during Hope Gala 2018. Slated to screen on Friday, Nov. 2 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee, the documentary punctuates a red-carpeted evening that will include the presence of the movie’s makers as well as live music by Amythyst Kiah.
“It’s my dream and goal to bring more films to the Tri-Cities,” said Josh Mancuso, Johnson City-based director of “Coming Home.”
Billed as a fundraiser, proceeds from the gala will benefit the Caleb Hope Foundation. Inspired by his trips to and dire images of children who inhabit slums in India, Caleb established the foundation as a way to raise money to provide essentials such as education for those children.
“Number one, we want to raise money for the Caleb Hope Foundation,” Mancuso, 38, said. “That’s the heartbeat behind the film.”
Caleb lives in Los Angeles, where “Coming Home” premiered in July. He’s an actor, one whose roots extend eons beyond his steps.
Born in Singapore, he grew up in Wales and landed in Gray, Tennessee, by age 14. Later, he attended King University in Bristol. From there, he moved to New York City and stage acting.
Then his father, the Rev. A.S.K. Caleb, who came from India, died in 2002. Inspired, Caleb traveled to India to seek his father’s heritage.
“I went to write about a man who was known for his simplicity,” said Caleb, by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “I wrote the book ‘He Walks with Me’ and a sequel, ‘In His Time.’ I wanted to trace my father’s footsteps for a book.”
Only thing, Caleb discovered something he had not foreseen. He found dire poverty, horrendous conditions from which children were highly unlikely to overcome as adults courtesy India’s long-established caste system of social hierarchies. Therein, opportunities exist for the elite, not the poor.
“It was horrendous enough to change the course of my life,” Caleb, 37, executive producer of “Coming Home,” said. “I couldn’t have dreamed it was that bad. It led me to take action. So, I wanted to make a film.”
A videographer accompanied Caleb, who made multiple trips to India through the process. Paired with Mancuso, they set about an arduous process of editing dozens of hours of footage to compile a 40-minute film.
“I didn’t go to India,” Mancuso said. “We took all of the footage from his first trip of 40 days, went through 160 hours of film, and worked with that. About 75 percent of the film came from that.”
Additional footage shot included interviews with Caleb and his family as well as the videographer. They also gathered video shot from a drone.
“It’s a touching story,” Mancuso said. “It’s all about self-discovery. He finds poverty. You’ll see children digging through trash. You’ll see adults digging through trash.”
Those children and adults connect directly with Caleb’s heritage. Consequently, the experience altered his life such that he took action beyond books and a movie.
“Pretty drastically,” Caleb said. “We started a nonprofit. The children in India started calling me big brother and dad. It’s humbling. I belong to them. For them, I am.”
Meanwhile, Caleb’s India-based Caleb Hope Foundation needs money. For the kids who have been cast from society and thus exist far from invigorating rays of hope, he intends to provide them with hope in various forms of body and mind sustenance.
“We’re building a school for destitute women and children,” Caleb said. “It’s going to be in Rajahmundry, India. We’re trying to raise $100,000.”
Likewise, the filmmakers hope that consumers of “Coming Home” will experience inspiration such that they seek to make differences in the world. It’s not just about giving dollars; it’s about gifting time.
“The most ordinary of people can have the most extraordinary of journeys,” Caleb said. “We want to be a part of renewal of the world. All it takes is a single step. Pretty soon, you look back and say, ‘I’ve come a long way.’”