The Montana-based producers of the movie “Unbranded” have a new documentary opening at the Babcock Theater in Billings this Thursday.
It’s called “Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story” and it's about a man who was struck with 2,400 volts of electricity and survived.
Six years ago, Eduardo Garcia was hiking in the backcountry near Gardiner when he stumbled across a dead bear inside what looked like a large, metal can.
“So I was thinking, ah, well, I’ll salvage this skull off of these mummified remains and in doing so, had both hands in the can,” Garcia says.
But that can was actually a rotting electrical junction box. Garcia was blasted with a bolt of electricity that blew holes in his head, leg and chest, sending him to an emergency burn center in Salt Lake City.
The movie tracks his recovery.
“The second my eyes opened on that forest floor, and I had a heartbeat, I told myself I’m going to get out of here and get back to that, back to life," Garcia says in the film.
He spent more than a month in an ICU, endured multiple surgeries, lost his left arm and found out he had testicular cancer to boot. But Phillip Baribeau, the movie’s director, says this isn’t just a survival story.
“Really it’s a story on just life," he says. "We all have challenges and it’s how you deal with those and it’s how to get to the other side.”
Garcia gets to the other side by staying upbeat. You see him on screen joking about his amputation or asking his best friend, Jennifer Jane, to pull his hair out during chemotherapy. And when I tell Garcia that I could’ve never acted that way -- that I would be so distraught and hopeless under the weight of all those surgeries, burns and chemotherapy:
“Well how do you know?" he asks. "Until you’ve sat and you’re running the equation that life throws you -- whatever it may be, how you make mortgage payments to how do you that job interview next week -- It’s those challenges that you don’t really know how you’re going to perform until you’re on stage.”
The film’s seen some success on the festival circuit. It won awards at the San Francisco DocFest, the Maui Film Festival, and it was the opening night selection at the Santa Barbara International film festival. You can see “Charged” at the Babcock Theater in Billings this Thursday, as well as in Bozeman on August 5th at the Ellen Theater. You can find more show dates here.