All profits from Paco Arango’s new film, The Healer, will be donated to the SeriousFun Children’s Network.
Arango started volunteering with children with cancer 17 years ago. “It was meant to be a once a week experience, [but] I actually went to the hospital and never got out. I’ve been going every day for the last 17 years,” he told EW.
The filmmaker became so involved that he started his own foundation for children with cancer in his native Spain, The Aladina Fund, named after the hit Spanish sitcom Arango created, ¡Ala… Dina!
His work with The Aladina Fund led him to Paul Newman, whom Arango met before he died in 2008. The director then became involved with Newman’s Own Foundation, Newman’s charitable network, which has raised over half a billion dollars for charity since its inception.
Arango went on to sit on the board of SeriousFun Children’s Network, an organization founded by Newman that provides summer camps aimed at empowering children with cancer and other serious illnesses. “Medicine can cure a child but it can’t cure the wounds of what they’ve lived through. At these camps they meet other kids that have gone through the same thing. Everything that’s been a ‘no’ is a ‘yes,’” Arango said. “Parents say, ‘You’ve given me back my child before he was sick.’”
From there Arango decided that if he were to make a film, he would do it “not only to entertain, but to communicate, and hopefully raise funds.” It’s an honorable goal, but it only works if people want to see your movie. As Arango told EW, “You can’t do a charity film if it’s not good.”
For The Healer, which comes out Sept. 28 on VOD platforms in the U.S., Arango enlisted acclaimed actors like British screen vet Jonathan Pryce and Lost’s Jorge Garcia. The film follows Alec Bailey (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a young man who discovers he has the gift of healing. Initially, he doesn’t believe he has the gift, (shown in the exclusive clip below) and rejects his ability until he meets Abigail (Kaitlyn Bernard), a teenager with terminal cancer.
Originally, Abigail’s character had a different name, but Arango changed it after meeting a woman while filming in Nova Scotia who had recently lost her 18-year-old daughter, Abigail, to cancer.
“What was incredible was that everything I had written about the child was pretty much what Abigail had medically,” Arango recounted. Arango asked the woman’s permission to use her daughter’s name, she obliged, and Arango made a donation to IWK hospital in Halifax, where Abigail was treated. “The community of Nova Scotia really really turned to help the movie,” Arango said.
Though most don’t associate filmmaking with philanthropic pursuits, Arango seems to meld the two with ease. “You can make a film to make the world a better place,” Arango said. “How much easier can it get to do good than just going to see a film? That’s all you gotta do [and] the money will go to the kids.”
Though the film’s plot sounds fantastical, Arango dedicated the story to Paul Newman, explaining, “Healers do exist, and Paul was one of them.” Arango clarified, “The real healing I’m talking about is people who actually heal the world… People should really be aware of who Paul Newman was. He wasn’t just an actor; he was pretty much an angel.”