Documentary: Johnny Barnes ‘Welcoming Arms’

September 28, 2016

A New York-based filmmaker made a short documentary that explores the positive effect that Johnny Barnes had on the island, and while the trailer was previously online, the whole film is now available for viewing, with the director saying that they have made the film public as they are at the end of their festival run.

Director Rosanne Ma calls the film, titled Welcoming Arms, “a love letter to Bermuda.”

Johnny Barnes 92nd birthday (1)

The director said, “The film was born out of the love we have for your island, its beauty, and the spirit and warmth of the Bermudian people. In the film, Johnny touches on the topic of death and the children talk about his legacy.

“The film features the artwork of Bermudian artist Lisa Anne Rego and musician Live Wires.

“Welcoming Arms made its world premiere at Bermuda Film Festival and went on to screen at Oscar nominating film festivals, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and Urbanworld as well as other industry recognized festivals.”

“When I first got the opportunity to meet and observe Johnny, I was amazed how the only times he occasionally broke from his waving and shouting was to drink water,” Ms Ma said.

“How can a man, let alone at his age, be in constant frenetic motion for six hours straight and not collapse? And why would he come back the next dawn to do it all over again?”

“My first response: he must be crazy or a religious fanatic, much like the reaction of many Bermudians who first saw Johnny at the roundabout 31 years ago.

“In getting to know Johnny, it became clear that the reasoning behind his mad ritual is quite simple. It is his happiness. It is not a religious calling. It is not a purpose in life. It is not a responsibility to the people. It is simply to bring himself joy. The children of Bermuda, without presumption, translate.”

Mr Barnes passed away at the age of 93 in July.

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  1. Kathy says:

    LOVELY man who will not be forgotten!