Live Long and Prosper
A local filmmaker explores the man behind Spock
On the 50th anniversary of the birth of “Star Trek,” Sanbornton native Kai de Mello-Folsom is playing a key role in preserving the legacy of Mr. Spock.
A familiar face on the New Hampshire theatre scene (he just wrapped up performing in “Fiddler on the Roof” at Plymouth State University), de Mello-Folsom is the co-producer of “For The Love of Spock,” a new documentary on the life of actor Leonard Nimoy, who died in 2015. The film contains plenty of juicy “Star Trek” tidbits, but goes far beyond the nuances of wearing pointy Vulcan ears and firing off witty one-liners to William Shatner.
“People tend to associate Leonard with just one thing,” notes de Mello-Folsom. “Few realize he was a talented photographer, director and writer as well. To realize how he was able to step outside his celebrity and succeed at many things is really inspiring — especially to me as a multihyphenated performer-producer-artist.”
The documentary uses Nimoy’s own voice from his audiobooks — he had two autobiographies, “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995) — to push along the narrative. Among the stories is the origin of the Vulcan split-fingered hand greeting: It was inspired by his childhood rabbi making a similar gesture during prayer and resembles the Hebrew letter “Shin,” the first letter of Shalom or peace.
De Mello-Folsom, who grew up fascinated by “Star Wars,” not “Star Trek,” promises the film will appeal to non-Trekkies too.
“I was most captivated by the personal story of [director] Adam Nimoy and how he struggled with his relationship with his famous dad. This is very much a father-son story that resonates far beyond the show.”
His accidental foray into Trekkieland — he and Adam Nimoy met through a mutual contact at the Sundance Film Festival — will soon become more permanent. Their next project is a documentary examining the underappreciated “Deep Space Nine,” which he says is known as the “black sheep of the ‘Star Trek’ family.” Stay tuned!
“For The Love of Spock” is the opening-night film of the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, screening at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 23, at Walker Hall, Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. For the full 2017 NHJFF lineup, which also includes comedies, dramas and international films, visit nhjewishfilmfestival.org.