Jarret Liotta’s Movies Hit Home

Jarret Liotta has a love-hate relationship with Westport.

After college, the Staples High School graduate spent years in Los Angeles. The journalist was a regular New York Times correspondent, and contributed to 100 publications.

But in 2008, he returned to give his kids some suburban experience.

Now — with nearly a decade back home, as a freelance writer and photographer — he’s gained a new appreciation for Westport’s uniqueness. He’s deepened old relationships, and made new acquaintances.

Jarret Liotta

“Sad to say, many of us are so paralyzed by the fear-based myths of being ‘practical’ that we shun the directions our hearts want to lead us,” he says.

“Instead we waste time talking ourselves into believing we’re happily situated in our work life.”

Two years ago, he decided to go all-in pursuing film and video — interests he’d had since dabbling in them decades ago at Coleytown Junior High.

He wrote “Home Movie,” a feature-length dark comedy. Filmed entirely in Westport, it’s the story of a young woman’s trip back to her hometown after her father dies.

But the title also refers to the help Liotta got from many local people and groups, including the Westport Woman’s Club, Senior Center, Police Department, Kaia Yoga, 323 restaurant, Gold’s Deli, even the Harding Funeral Home.

A Kickstarter campaign — running through Thanksgiving — will help him place “Home Movie” in film festivals.

A scene from “Home Movie” …

While working on that project, Liotta talked with Bill Harmer. The Westport Library director mentioned that his previous library in Michigan was involved with films on local subjects.

Bob Mitchell of the Westport Historical Society heard that Liotta was interested in a Westport-based documentary. He suggested veterans.

“I’ve always been a dove,” Liotta says. “I’ve had relatively set ideas about the military, and what I imagined was a typical veteran.”

But he liked the idea. After each interview, his impressions evolved.

“On a personal level, it was very enlightening,” he explains. “I found myself understanding many positive aspects about the involvement I wouldn’t otherwise have considered.”

… and one from his veterans’ documentary.

Liotta started with World War II veterans, including well-known Westporters Leonard Everett Fisher, Ted Diamond and Bob Satter. Some he knew personally. Others, he says, “I had the good fortune to meet.”

While he still considers any kind of military machine “repugnant” — though “perhaps necessary” — he now has a different perspective on those who choose to serve.

“The people I interviewed seem to recognize the tremendous value in living a service attitude — giving back or taking responsibility to help their larger community,” Liotta says.

“That’s a brilliant and honorable concept. To me, that’s really the core reason to honor veterans.”

Right now, Liotta is editing the film. It’s called “Community & Country: A Spirit of Service.” It will be shown at Town Hall on Monday, November 13 (7 p.m.)

He hopes the library and Historical Society will make copies available after it’s screened.

That will be their — and his — way of giving back, just as our veterans have done.

12 responses to “Jarret Liotta’s Movies Hit Home

  1. Susan Pfister

    The Westport Center for Senior Activities would love to view this wonderful film, too. Congrats Jarret.

  2. While my dad was in the hospital Mr. Liotta made a copy of his documentary available for my dad to watch. Thank you.

    • Thanks Blair … I thought your dad was simply a terrific, sweet guy & such a wonderful and encouraging supporter of this project … The Library & Society suggested dedicating it to him, which we have, and you couldn’t have a more meaningful connection for this film … I will miss him but am truly enriched personally & grateful for having spent time with him!!

  3. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    Jarret, follow your dream!
    Gerald F Romano, Jr.

  4. Danielle Dobin

    As I sit here packing boxes of Halloween candy to send to our special forces troops in Afghanistan, it is tough to read a word like “repugnant” used in reference to our armed services. I’m glad Mr. Liotta now sees reason to honor the veterans he met and I look forward to viewing “Community & Country” and perhaps the word “repugnant” was taken out of context.

    I don’t mean to sound preachy but something about have been messaging with a friend in the military who has served multiple tours overseas and then reading this post in quick succession really got to me. The way of life described in this post – a bucolic childhood in Westport, a life exploring creative professional endeavors like writing and filmmaking, the freedom to move easily around our country – are secured by our volunteer soldiers, marines and sailors who leave for extended tours of duty overseas, risking death and injury and secure for us all the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted. From fighting in World War II against the greatest evil our world has ever seen to deploying today in Afghanistan to train local militaries to combat the Taliban, our servicemen and servicewoman are the reason we are free to live our lives blithely contemplating mid-life career changes instead of building bunkers to protect our families from harm. It’s easy to be a “dove” when you take for granted the peace and security provided by the US Military. I sometimes worry that in towns like Westport so few of our sons and daughters or fathers or mothers are actually serving currently that we are disconnected from our military and the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their experiences deployed overseas. I don’t know that Mr. Liotta would describe our armed services as “perhaps necessary” if he heard first hand accounts of life under the Taliban or stories from soldiers serving currently in the Korean DMZ.

    • Yes, thank you Danielle … That’s what I’m saying! It is easy for everyone to be caught up in their own worlds, and only sometimes when we have those kind of “awakening” experiences of, say, conversing with someone in the military, in active service perhaps, are we snapped into a different perspective …

      I think you’re definitely taking the word “repugnant” out of context. A military machine & armed services are NOT the same thing! That’s my point — a separation of the service people & the bureaucracy driving insanity … This is something some of the vets in my film talk about! … I’ll look forward to your reaction at the screening on Mon. Nov. 13 @ Town Hall (6.30pm) … Thanks! And Thanks Dan!! 🙂

  5. Chip Stephens SHS '73

    Well stated Daniel
    I wrote a similar bit about 5 years ago when an challanged editorial guy in the Westport News claimed only poor and people of color were serving and getting killed in the military. Having had 3 outstanding young men on football and wrestling teams that I coached here in town, and knowing several others, I blasted him for his misinformation and disrespect towards our home grown heroes often forgotten. Westport WestPoint and Academy grads, army rangers and navy seals, non- coms, national guard teachers and neighbors all serving under fire all for God and Country and all of us.
    Repugnant ? Maybe necessary? WTF

    • As above, Chip, I urge you to try & understand my valid point (and stating of my personal experience) — which ironically is probably close to yours ultimately! — and not pull out words & phrases you don’t like by association…

      And you too, I hope you can be at the preview screening at Town Hall on Nov. 13, Mon, at 6.30pm … Cheers!!

  6. The Library is very proud of the tremendous amount of thought and time that has gone into producing this film. The community is invited to join the free screening of the film on Monday November 13 at 7 p.m. at Westport Town Hall. In addition, the film is being dedicated to the memory of Bob Satter, a dear Library patron and friend who features prominently in the piece. We look forward to seeing the community at the screening on the 13th!

  7. Lori Winthrop Dockser

    Way to go Jarret!!!!!!