Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey is a documentary about the band Journey and their new lead vocalist Arnel Pineda. I’m not a documentary watcher, and I usually don’t go out of my own way to see one either. However, I watched the trailer and it really intrigued me about this Cinderella-like story that it was trying to tell. In 2007, American band Journey searched for a new lead singer, someone who could fill in the shoes of Steve Perry. During this nearly impossible mission, the guitarist Neal Schon came across YouTube videos of a Filipino singer with a heavenly voice belting out Journey covers in a Manila bar. What happens after is a true rags to riches story, as that Filipino singer Arnel Pineda is now the frontman of Journey. The film documents Arnel’s journey, who suddenly got thrown into this legendary rock band, experiencing culture shock, racism, and his sudden new-found fame.
Coming from someone who doesn’t watch documentaries regularly, I thought this film was really well done in depicting Arnel’s story. I love how Arnel is so talented and humble. For someone who grew up in poverty, he still retains a great sense of humor. Of course his voice, I can’t describe how beautiful it is, that it just gives you goosebumps. Not only did Arnel benefit from this fated connection, but the band Journey became reborn again, with their popularity taken off to new heights across the globe.
The director Romona S. Diaz was also present at the screening of the film at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. During the Q&A session, she described how she followed the band on tour for 2 years to film the documentary. How Arnel did not want to see the film and sat in the very back corner when the band screened it. After it finished, he came up to her and gave her a big hug and left. Even though he didn’t say anything, she said “I think he liked it.” I thought the director was interesting because she’s more known in making films about political and women’s issues. Someone in the audience asked what was her next film about and she said it was about sexual reproductive organ rights. LOL! That is definitely very different from this film about a rock band! One last thing she mentioned, it was about the use of Journey’s music in the film. She had to meet with the countless number of lawyers of the band’s wives, ex-wives, grandparents, etc. because they all had ownership rights to each song. Hearing her describe these little stories with the band and entourage was definitely fascinating and an eye-opener.
I’ve become a fan of Arnel and Journey after this film and have a new appreciation for documentaries. I’m really glad I decided to go see it because I would have missed out discovering an amazing talented artist! Do watch the film if you get the chance!