A poignant and powerful South Florida-set documentary about an unlikely treatment for an Iraq war veteran’s post-traumatic stress syndrome, “Rudy + Neal Go Fishing” will make its national premiere on public television stations around the country next month.
Locally, the half-hour film, which made its South Florida debut at the 2014 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, will air at 9 p.m. Nov. 6. on WLRN-Ch. 17.
A profile of courage, friendship and the spiritual redemption to be found on a boat in the Everglades, “Rudy + Neal Go Fishing” follows the story of First Sgt. Rudy Watt, a Miami Gardens resident on retired-reserve status after more than two decades in the Army, including an 18-month tour in Iraq that left him a changed man.
In the film he meets Neal Stark, a popular hairdresser at the posh L'Estetica Salon in Aventura, where the gabby Davie resident got to talking with a customer about his other life: A tournament fisherman, Stark also was the founder of a nonprofit called Fishing With America's Finest, taking veterans suffering from PTSD to fish as a form of recreational therapy.
Stark’s accounts of the transformative experiences he witnessed with the veterans in the Everglades fascinated his customer, who turned out to be filmmaker Abigail Tannebaum Sharon. The former Hallandale Beach resident completed “Rudy + Neal Go Fishing” in 2013 with the help of a Kickstarter campaign and volunteers, including cinematographer Pablo Durana, part of the team that made the Oscar-winning documentary short "Inocente."