March 7, 2014 by Katie Prentiss
In this new column, Screen Magazine will bring you the latest from Midwest documentary filmmakers in all stages of production. Whether they are editing right around the corner, or shooting on another continent, Loading Doc will be your source for news from the documentary filmmaking community.
MACARTHUR GRANT FOR HUFFMAN: From Chicago filmmaker Brent Huffman comes SAVING MES AYNAK, a story of preservation in Afghanistan. A 5,000 year old archaeology site is threatened by a copper mine, and one determined man is trying to save it. Huffman received a MacArthur grant for $100,000, which he said he will use for post-production, music and outreach. A famed Afghan composer, Homayoun Sakhi, will be creating an original soundtrack for the film using musicians from Mes Aynak. This feature-length film will be completed this summer. Follow the film here.
BACK TO SCHOOL FOR NEWELL AND SABU: HOW TO BUILD A SCHOOL IN HAITI is a cinematic case study of one particular school, but aims to open up the discussion of international aid and development at large. Filmmakers Jack C. Newell and Dinesh Sabu, both Chicagoans, just returned from two weeks in Haiti where they shot the grand opening of the Bethlehem school in a rural part of the country, which will be a central part of their film.
“It was great to spend time in the village after more than 6 months,” Sabu said. “We met the construction workers, most of whom had returned to some kind of farming or different, temporary manual labor jobs. A couple of the students—characters of ours—were glad to see us—and we caught up about how their lives were going.”
The film also wrapped up a successful kickstarter campaign to raise money for post-production.
“The sooner we can raise money for the film and complete it, the sooner we can have a dialogue about the complications of aid,” Sabu said “The students in the school only get one chance at the 4th, 5th, or 6th grade. The sooner we can shift discussions to have more of an impact, the better their lives will become.” Keep up with the film here.
RETURN TO ALASKA: Chicago-based filmmaker Karen Weinberg and Ten Trees Productions are in the second phase of shooting in Alaska for the feature documentary KEEP TALKING: IMMERSION IN THE ALASKAN WILD. The topic of the film is to see how this remote island community is handling the preservation of their endangered language; there are only 33 fluent speakers of Kodiak Alutiiq today.This second phase of the film’s production will include visiting Alaska Native Alutiiq language learners and teachers in their homes, at work, and at school. More about this production here.
KICKSTARTING GRACEFULLY: Rebecca Parish of Interchange Productions and The Kindling Group in Chicago launched a Kickstarter for the movie RADICAL GRACE. The story follows three nuns on a mission to stand up for their spiritual conviction, though the Vatican has tried to silence them for their feminism. The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to raise money for editing, music, and licensing. Support this fundraising effort here.
Is your next documentary film heading into production? Under development? Maybe heading into post or onto the festival circuit? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear about it.
Katie Prentiss is a journalist and documentary filmmaker in Chicago currently working with Kartemquin Films on MORMON MOVIE (working title). Follow Katie at @prentkat.