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Five Friends

Five Friends

Duration: 70 min
ISBN: 1-932869-54-9
Date Produced: 2011
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
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Press Reviews
Praise for the Film

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Five Friends

"If you've got five friends when you die," American philosopher Elbert Hubbard was fond of saying, "then you've had a great life." Five Friends tell the story of one man who decided to live that life. The film chronicles 65-year-old Hank Mandel's relationships with his five closest friends, providing a deeply personal look at how they navigate success, conflict, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, and death, and revealing what men are capable of when they dare to break out of "bro culture" and open up to one another. Along the way, Five Friends encourages us to think critically about the high price boys and men too often pay for adhering to rigid cultural ideas of manhood. A powerful resource for courses that examine gender roles and masculinity.

Features commentary from experts including bestselling author and renowned sociologist Michael Kimmel. A ManTiago Films/Captive Pictures Production.

Filmmaker Info

Written, Produced & Directed by Erik Santiago
Producer & Collaborator: Hank Mandel
Co-producer: Ken Stewart
Director of Photography: Sean Conaty
Editor: Kyle Gilbertson

Film Festivals

Press Reviews

"Creating 'Quality Male Relationships' in the Age of Bros"

Praise for the Film

"Five Friends is beautifully shot, simply and tastefully edited, funny, painful, poignant... a movie that inspires 'bros,' 'buds,' and 'dudes' to reach for something more in their relationships -- with themselves and with each other."
- Boysen Hodgson | ManKind Project

"Five Friends is an engaging, perceptive and touching film about one of the most sensitive aspects of masculinity -- intimate friendships between straight men. The film reveals the confusions and barriers which can arise in male friendships but also the amazing possibilities for emotional maturity, empathy and reflexive awareness generated when men cease competing against each other and start talking and sharing. In an age when opportunities for new and more positive forms of masculine expression have never been greater, yet also an age when many men are either resisting or confused about such changes, Five Friends signals hope and a way forward. This film should be shown in high schools, colleges and universities around the world. All males, whatever their race, creed or sexuality, will benefit from realising that being vulnerable and anxious is not only ok, but that it is healthy to share such emotions with other males. As the film powerfully illustrates, friendship between straight men does not threaten masculinity but actually advances it."
- Stephen M. Whitehead | Author of The Masculinities Reader and Men and Masculinities

"Five Friends is a much-needed documentary about close male friendships... Useful in undergraduate or graduate level courses on masculinity, violence, and gender [and] provides an accessible gateway to understanding how men interact with one another, with women, and with society at large."
- Films for the Feminist Classroom

"The film shows the racial, age, and class diversity that can occur between men friends and how they can engage in deeply moving discussions about feelings, life, marriages lost, and relationships won. Sociologist Michael Kimmel intersperses commentary that helps give a broader view of men's friendships than just the idiosyncratic view offered by Hank et al. This helps to round out an understanding of the topic of male friendships. In Hank's view, men's friendships should involve open discussions about feelings. Men should work toward a physically and emotionally expressive relationship with other men. Only then, Hank believes, can true connections be made. Men are often afraid to express their emotions and vulnerabilities to other men. Not Hank. In one great scene in the movie, he is having breakfast with a friend who is cooking up scrambled eggs. As they sit down to eat, Hank tells his friend he gets jealous when he hears this friend is going off with other guys for a weekend. He feels left out and wants to be included. It is a well-done and understated scene that I think speaks to what many other men would feel in this situation but would never feel comfortable saying. The men in the video are nested in families; though women and children play only a peripheral role in this film, Erik Santiago opens and closes the movie with his feelings about the birth of his first son -- who appears in the final scene. Men's groups in particular might enjoy the film but anyone working with men who have problems with getting close to other men could also benefit."
- Dr. Geoffrey Greif | Professor, University of Maryland School of Social Work | Author, Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships

"The issue of male relationships, friendships, raises a range of issues not least concerning mental wellbeing. Yet there is an on-going difficulty for many men in being able to forge and keep intimate relations with other men. Five Friends unpacks the issues around intimate male relationships in an engaging and sensitive manner. The film demonstrates -- through personal accounts, examination of the media, and interviews with a key academic -- the joys, benefits, but also the challenges that can accrue when men open themselves up to sharing their lives with other men. The film would be of great value in provoking discussion on gender and masculinities within academic settings but could also be useful within community settings where there is a desire to demonstrate the value that male support and companionship can bring."
- Steve Robertson | Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Men's Health at Leeds Metropolitan University | Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Men's Health

"It's a film that, wherever it's been shown since its April debut, has provoked laughter and tears... Women who saw the film, responding to many of its poignant scenes, asked to show it to their brothers and fathers."
- Lary Bloom | Connecticut Magazine

"When straight men are asked who's their best friend, most will answer, 'My wife.' When women are asked the same question, most will say it's another woman... Five Friends tackles the problems men face when having non-sexual, intimate relationships."
- Linda Kriger | Jewish Daily Forward

"...few have tackled the topic as deeply, poignantly, sensitively, and seriously as filmmaker Erik Santiago... I was more moved and motivated about male friendships from this film than I have been by any . . .Bible study or weekend men's retreat."
- Mark Moring | Christianity Today


American Sociological Association Annual Meeting | Denver, CO | August 2012
The Nation cruise | December 11-18, 2011
Shubert Theatre | New Haven, CT | October 29, 2011
Arlington International Film Festival | Arlington, MA | October 8, 2011
The Bijou Theatre | Bridgeport, CT | September 25, 2011
Connecticut Gathering of Men | September 16-18, 2011
American Men's Studies Association conference | Kansas City, MO | April 2011

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