The film is as much a love letter to the Midwest as it is a reminder to appreciate every experience life has given you...
— Courtney Bierman (The University Daily Kansan)
Joicie Appell is an absolute standout.
— Sarah James (Byte Magazine)
a beautiful, heartwarming work
— Sarah James (Byte Magazine)
It’s as pleasant a movie experience as one is likely to have this summer.
— Courtney Bierman (The University Daily Kansan)
The Tree” is old-fashioned moviemaking at its best.
— Christopher Lloyd (The Film Yap)
you cannot remain immune to ‘The Tree’s’ wealth of feeling
— Robert W. Butler (Butler's Cinema Scene and The Kansas City Star)
The very simple truth is that there’s almost nothing I didn’t love about The Tree, a gentle whisper of a film that tackles important issues involving aging and independence yet does so in a way that is remarkably universal and deeply intimate.
— Richard Propes (The Independent Critic)

See what the critics are saying.

Christopher Lloyd (The Film Yap)

Gorgeously shot (cinematography by Stephen Wallace Pruitt and Michael Lopez) with an inviting piano-dominant musical score by Randy Bonifeld, “The Tree” is old-fashioned moviemaking at its best. You don’t often see films centered on an elderly woman, get to walk a mile in her shoes or admire the fine folds of skin around her beaming eyes.

Read the full review here.

Richard Propes (The Independent Critic)

Heading out on "the National Road," the historic name for U.S. 40, Dorothy begins a journey that is everything she never expects it to be yet everything she needs to be in The Tree, screening as part of the Indiana Spotlight during the 2017 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. Pruitt, a native Hoosier, has crafted a quietly remarkable film that captures the essence of life in the heartland and the essence of life for this beautiful, endearing, gently wise and determined widow played to consummate perfection by former Guiding Light soap opera actress Joicie Appell.

Read the full review here.

Sarah James (BYTE Magazine)

When walking into an independent film festival, you never know exactly what to expect. A film about an 88-year-old woman taking a road trip may not seem exciting to some, but The Tree is so much more than what meets the eye. Director Stephen Wallace Pruitt took the inspiring friendship between his mother and her best friend and orchestrated a beautiful, heartwarming work of fiction that is sure to pull on the heartstrings.

Read the full review here.

The Tree in the News

Lawrence Journal World

“I moved back here to raise my kids, quite honestly, and also to be here for my parents who are aging,” says Kirk. “Quite frankly, I wish I would have seen a film like this two years ago. In small towns, people do look out for each other. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s also just life. I think ‘The Tree’ has a beautiful way of looking at that.”

Read the full article here.

Sedalia Democrat

“In film you have to be real, you can’t be pretense or it shows up on camera,” she added. “There’s a lot of scenes where I’m just downright not pretty at all. Where my hair’s in curlers, a lot of chins show, you know, and blemishes. But he (Pruitt) made it so real and that’s what’s exciting for me.”

Read the full article here.

Alive Magazine

Kansas City-based independent filmmakers Stephen Wallace Pruitt and Mary Settle Pruitt tackled their first feature when they were 50 and 47 years old, respectively. However, the husband-and-wife team have already parlayed this fashionably late arrival into the world of indie cinema into two award-wining features (“Works in Progress,” “The Tree”), a forthcoming mini-series (“Terminal”) and a new film that is now commencing production.

Joined-at-the-hip collaborators, the Pruitts work as co-writers and co-producers, with Stephen acting as director, cinematographer, editor and any other role required to complete a project. Their latest film “The Tree” screened at the 2017 St. Louis International Film Festival, where we caught up with Stephen to discuss his inimitable DIY approach to filmmaking: eager, self-assured and meticulous.

Read the full interview here.

KU News

Two years after it was filmed in this area and after a year of kudos on the film-festival circuit, the dramatic film “The Tree” is set to live on as an advocacy tool for the compassionate treatment of older people.

Department of Theatre Lecturer Laura Kirk co-stars in the film and takes associate producer credit as well. In it, she plays Marge McMillan, the neighbor of the film’s 88-year-old protagonist, Dorothy Thorp, played by veteran Kansas City actress Joicie Appell.

Kirk and her real-life husband, fellow actor Paul Fellers, play Thorp’s neighbors. They function in the story much as the protagonist’s adult children would – if she had any around – expressing concern that the elderly woman is about to undertake a solo road trip that serves as the story’s main dramatic action.

Read the full article here.