There are many tangible things that can change people’s lives, like food or medicine, but what really makes a difference is courage and dedication. These are exactly the qualities that describe Ed Artis, Jim Laws, Walt Ratterman and Adrian Belic.‚ In 2006, Belic and his brother Roko, who together are the heart of Wadi Rum Productions, began screening their latest documentary Beyond the Call.‚ It tells the story of Artis, Laws and Ratterman and their good-will missions.
The three men, otherwise known as Knightsbridge International, have been traveling the world helping those who need it most for over a decade.‚ Offering food supplies, medical assistance and more importantly empathy and care, the trio cross borders to help.‚ “They figure that the more remote, the more exotic (the location), the more assistance they can be to people,” said Belic.
The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it received fantastic reviews.‚ Christopher Campbell of Cinematical called it “An extremely inspiring film that is also hilarious, exciting and heart-wrenching. Not only are the three men unbelievably good willed, they are enjoyable characters filled with lovable quirks and wonderful stories to tell.”
The positive feedback has been coming steadily since then.‚ To date, the film has screened at over 100 festivals on five continents and won 38 awards.‚ In the wake of this success, the film is set to release on DVD this month.‚ Belic and Wadi Rum Productions will be releasing the DVD themselves, and it is only a small part of the role Belic has played in the documentary’s life.‚ He is credited as the director, producer, writer and cinematographer.
This may seem like a lot of work, especially when one finds out Belic never attended film school, but he and his brother clearly have natural talent and drive.‚ The pair has been making films since elementary school.‚ Their first major production, Genghis Blues, was an Academy Award nominee and a Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner.
It was at a screening of Genghis Blues that Belic met Ed Artis, who had come to the screening to get a sense of the film’s location, Tuva, Russia.‚ Artis, Laws and Ratterman had already been doing their work for years and Tuva was on their list of destinations.
Belic subsequently met with them to hear more about their projects.‚ He said, “They told me these insane stories about what they do,” and it was enough to hook Belic.‚ In 2000 he was invited to join Knightsbridge on a trip to Afghanistan.‚ He left Los Angeles and boarded a plane in New York to join the three men immediately.
“High Adventure and Service to Humanity” is the motto of Knightsbridge International, and Belic experienced every moment of it for three years. “We’ve had guns stuck in our faces, near-crash landings, dealing with war lords and land minds,” Belic said.‚ “I never get used to it, but after a while you learn to deal with it.‚ I focus on the humanity and I’m able to deal with the insanity.”
It’s exactly that attitude that has made Beyond the Call such a success.‚ Variety said, “It’s impossible not to admire their can-do spirit,” and the New York Times called Knightsbridge “unlikely heroes.”
“They’re just average guys who saw that there was great need in the world and wanted to do their little part,” said Belic. By making this film, Belic has joined their ranks — an average person doing his part to make a difference.‚ He said that the only difference between he and his brother and many audience members is that they didn’t give up in the face of discouragement.‚ To them, it is rewarding just to have finished it is project and show the world how people can do something extraordinary.
The film has also drawn a great deal of attention to Knightsbridge International and their cause.‚ ‚ “The film has definitely helped them raise resources,” he said.‚ Of course people donate money, but help has also arrived in many other equally important ways, such as hospitals donating medical supplies and even different types of transportation for the team.
“One of the great things that has come from the film is that people have become inspired and want to become more engaged,” said Belic, “and that’s always what I hoped would happen.”
Beyond the Call continues to screen around the world and will be available on DVD as of October first.‚ It can be pre-ordered from the website, beyondthecallthemovie.com, where you can also preview the film, learn more about Knightsbridge International and check Belic’s other projects.