A Sacred Journey
A film by Ernesto Quintero
SYNOPSIS“A Sacred Journey” (ASJ) is a story of Juan, a young man struggling with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the steps he and his family take in combating this fatal illness. It’s a love story between Juan and Ernesto, one of the six siblings. There is an unspoken vow between the two that now places Ernesto in a position to question his belief system as he cares for Juan while he journeys with ALS. Juan shocks his family when he expresses his desire to give a mural to his community. With six months left to live, he embarks on a journey that allows his vision to be painted on the wall so that he is forever remembered. As the mural slowly comes alive, the disease quickly attacks Juan’s physical body. The stages of ALS take their course andhe is faced with the decision to live bedridden and dependent on an artificial ventilator and feeding tube without the ability to eat, speak or move. Beyond the race to finish the mural before it’s too late, decisions have to be made in regards to Juan’s life. Does he continue living on a ventilator or does he comfortably die in the leisure of his home?
"The doctor of all doctors is God and he can grant us a miracle."
-Roberto Quintero (Juan's father)
"Sometimes love is the only cure." -Ernesto Quintero (Juan's brother)
"We are all trying to leave our hand print." -Margaret Garcia (artist)
In 2005,my brother Juan was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and was given 3 years to live. Since then, I have been documenting Juan and his family so that his two children would have the memories of their father preserved. It was not until a few years ago that I realized that all of this footage that tells Juan’s story is one that should be shared, and thus I began to edit “A Sacred Journey” (ASJ). In this documentary, the viewer not only journeys with Juan, his children, his parents and his siblings in these three years after his diagnosis but is also witness to a community mobilizing to support one of their own in need. ASJ is the powerful true story that takes place in the mostly Latino neighborhood of Lincoln Heights (LHTS), and celebrates the love and the power that manifests when a community comes together. Two and a half years into his diagnosis, with six months left to live, Juan decides to embark on a mural project. He hires a muralist, asks me to write the story and picks a 34-foot wall at his old Alma Mater Sacred Heart Elementary School (SHES), where his kids presently attend. The mural on the wall consists of a timeline of LHTS, a historical account of one of the first neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where my parents decided to raise all six of their children. The mural is broken up into 5 segments; pre-historic time to present time LHTS. What is at the core of the mural is the image of the “familia”. In ASJ we witness the birth of a mural paralleled with the progression of Juan’s illness, a family and entire community struggling with letting their loved one go to the relentless grip of this dreadful disease. ASJ is told through my eyes as Juan’s brother and best friend. My vision is to show how one man’s struggle can unite thousands and how my family has taken their loved one’s diagnosis and turned a potential heartache into a blessing as well.