Friday, September 23, 2011

If It's Wednesday, This Must Be Whitehorse!

Four... Three... Two... No, that's not me reading out the forecast highs for Whitehorse next week, that's actually me counting down to one of my most highly anticipated events to come out of this filmmaking experience yet...

Dolly Day Celebration Yukon, here I come!

I'm flying out this Wednesday to Whitehorse, where I'll be presenting the film (at both English and French screenings), meeting with the public as well as local filmmakers, journalists, and most importantly, Claire Derome . She's the woman who's responsible for bringing our film to the Yukon as the centrepiece of "Dolly Day" - a unique fund-raising event she created this year for the local chapter of the Imagination Library (read more here).

Originally founded by Dolly herself in Tennessee, the Imagination Library's mission is to fight illiteracy by providing one free book per month to every child enrolled in a local program from birth to 5 years of age. And Claire tells me that since its inception in 2006, her chapter of the Imagination Library has been in constant expansion. The overwhelming popularity of the program will see The Yukon Imagination Library distribute a total of 15,000 books to over 60 percent of the region's children by 2013!

In order for this non-profit organization to keep up with the almost viral demand, funds and awareness are always in desperate need of being raised. It was when Claire heard an interview I did on Radio-Canada about the film and Dolly's implication in it that she had the idea for bringing me and the film to the Yukon and creating the "Dolly Day Celebration" around it.

The event involves a screening of the film, a meet and greet with me and a whole evening's festivities featuring the fantastic blue-grass band, "Second Cousin" playing the film's music as part of their repertoire. Everyone involved has waived their fees (thanks again to @MongrelMedia!) and all proceeds of this event will go to the Yukon Imagination Library. I'm so thrilled to be able to contribute to this organization and its important work. And I so love the "full-circleness" of the whole thing - the film that Dolly helped to make has now become a way to help Dolly's cause!

I'm very much looking forward to actively "giving back" to Dolly in this small way. The fact that I will also, finally, get to experience a part of this country that has long-fascinated me from afar is just a really juicy cherry on top.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Birth Order

Much like the fate of a family's second-born, my recent experience in Frankfurt at Lucas Film Festival may seem to have suffered from a little attention-deficit just by virtue of coming AFTER my first international festival. Not that I was any less enamoured of the people, places and pleasures afforded by this latest experience - far from it! But let's just say I was a little less compulsive about photographing and documenting every little detail and hiccup of this trip than I was when I had my first.

Nonetheless, I do have images. And there are stories. And I flat out LOVED Lucas.

More to the point, I loved the vibe, the people and especially the community that spontaneously formed amongst my fellow filmmakers, festival organizers, volunteers and audiences. At the end of the week, we seriously felt like one big film-y family.

The fact that most of us were staying in a hotel smack in the middle of Frankfurt's red light district probably helped create that sense of stick-togetherness - especially when walking home through the Smack-riddled, never-ending nightlife - whether it was in the wee hours or at high noon. But even beyond the safety in numbers imperative, we really fused in a way that - even now, a week later and so many thousands of miles away - feels real.

And I have to say that coming home to the official word that Osiris Entertainment has picked up our film for U.S. distribution has done nothing to dim the glow I brought back from Deutschland!

But next up is a project I'm probably the MOST excited about - Dolly's Day in the Yukon. Inspired by the story of how our film came about and Dolly's role in it, community leader Claire Derome created Dolly's Day, using our film as a centrepiece to help raise awareness and funds for the local children's literacy foundation, Dolly's Imagination Library.

This is exactly the kind of thing that is so in keeping with Dolly's generous spirit and humanity. The fact that she helped me make this film has afforded me the chance to contribute to a really worthy cause. To give back. To Dolly. To kids. And their community. It's so full-circle it's gorgeous.

And, as the film's master mixer, Gavin Fernandes points out, the fact that tickets for this event are sold at M&M Meats in Whitehorse is so... Yukon Gold!