February 01, 2015

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A son learns his father's true identity in the new documentary 'Tatanka'

Young Jacob Bricca with his father, Kit "Tatanka" Bricca.

BY: Lauren Kirchmyer | April 16, 2014

Sharing a personal story with friends and acquaintances can be a difficult experience. Now imagine sharing that personal story with strangers all around the country. That feeling is what Jacob Bricca is experiencing as people view his latest documentary, “Tatanka,” a film about his father.

“I have very vivid memories of my youth,” Bricca said. “I remember the communal spirit of the times and wanted to hear from my father what it was like to work with Cesar Chavez and Joan Baez.”

Although they were close, there were things Bricca never understood about his father, Kit. As Bricca grew older, Kit focused more on his spiritual life and changed his name to “Tatanka.” From 2009 until about 2011, Bricca decided to learn about his father’s life and capture it all on film.

“It’s not only a film with some great historical figures in it, it’s also a great drama,” Jacob said. “I’m proud of how the drama between me and my dad becomes a story lots of people are relating to.”

Helping Bricca bring his story to life on screen was Mark Bomback, a friend he made while studying film studies at Wesleyan University in the 1990s. After graduating, Bomback made his way into writing screenplays for “Wolverine,” “Live Free or Die Hard” and “Planet of the Apes” to name a few.

Although he had many notes for Bricca after watching a rough cut of the documentary, Bomback was blown away by its effectiveness and decided to produce the film.

“His father’s life is such a story,” Bomback said. “A lot of my job was to help find the best story within the footage, how one scene would best relate to the next.”

Bricca found the collaboration thrilling. As a son, he had trouble including the hard things about his father’s life, but Bomback gave the film balance.

“When we sat and watched the evolving rough cuts over the period of a year, Mark would talk out loud during the film, telling me his thoughts and ideas. I got instant feedback and instant ideas on how to change it,” Bricca said. “The film improved every time we worked together like this.”

The film was complete last fall, and Bricca has taken it to festivals ever since. The documentary was well liked, with people calling the film “fascinating,” “deeply personal,” and “emotional and profound.”

“This is genuinely a good film,” Bomback said. Besides having a universal theme people can relate to, Bomback enjoys the character of “Tatanka” and the cultural history of America he brings into the film. “A lot of us have these secret dreams of longing, greatness or making a difference in the world. In the movie, that’s not satisfying enough for Jacob’s father, he wants to pursue something greater.”

“Making the film brought my father and I closer together,” Bricca said. “We may not share the same views on those metaphysical matters, but I understand now that it’s a deep part of who he is, rather than a passing interest of fad.”

“Tatanka” will be shown at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 28 at the Market Arcade Film & Arts Center as a part of the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival. It lasts about an hour and a half in length. According to Bomback, “I guarantee people will leave the film with a different perspective on the way they live their lives.”

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