To the friends, family, and supporters of Memory Is Our Homeland,
I hope this email finds you all well. I figured it was a good time to send out a bit of an update on my film project. Almost four years after my first trip to Poland and Belarus in 2010, there have been many ups and downs to get here, but the project has now been picked up by a producer, here in Montreal, who is going to help me try and find the funding to complete it. There's still work to do, but I wanted to let you all know where I'm at, and thank you for helping me get this far.
If you're receiving this email, you should know that it's because I count you among those who’ve made an important contribution towards helping me work on something that feels both like a long-standing dream and a family obligation. Whether it's through a financial contribution that's helped me travel or work on the film, helping with translation, shooting, or photographing, or support in the form of a meal or an encouraging conversation, you've each had a role in helping me work on something that's bigger than me. If I'd known at the beginning how much work it would be to get to this place I would have found it daunting, but it's your support that's helped me stay with it.
People don't make documentaries to get rich quickly, they do it because they have something that needs to be said, even if it takes time. Over the last four years, I've travelled to England, France, Tanzania, Kenya, Amsterdam, Germany, and Poland in search of a story that belongs not only to me and my family, but to countless others. I've interviewed more than 20 people, been in touch with hundreds of others, and share these stories with many, many more. And after being able to travel to Belarus, and stumbling upon the village where my grandmother was born, I was even able to find people who fondly remembered my great-grandparents and their family.
Whatever reception this film may have when it’s done, it already feels like an accomplishment to have gotten this far. It feels significant to have been able to reassure my grandmother, before she passed away, that not everything had been lost when she was deported as a child: the memories had endured. I am grateful to have been able to give those who shared their stories with me a sense that they were being heard and documented. To see the trailer, that shows some of their stories and how the film is coming together, please visit this link: https://vimeo.com/99573982
As for the good news, a few weeks ago I signed a contract with a Montreal-based producer named Frederic Bohbot to find the funds to complete the film. Frederic runs Bunbury Films (http://www.bunburyfilms.com), a production company that won an Oscar a few months ago for a documentary called "The Lady In Number 6". He's the perfect producer for this project: smart, savvy, respectful of the story and my approach, and even a graduate of Eastern European and Soviet Studies. In Poland, we will also be working with producer who has worked with the Andrzej Wajda Film School and The Polish Film Institute.
Having these people onboard with the project is a huge step, and we hope to have funding sorted out by this autumn. Frederic has applied to the Canadian Media Fund (a TV broadcaster-supported fund), and met with several Canadian and American broadcasters, and we should hear back by September. In the mean time, he is willing to put his equipment and his expertise at my disposal, towards continuing the work, until we secure financing.
In the immediate future, my goal is to spend the next couple of months working on it, and getting to Europe this summer to work on the film, since there are important interviews to shoot in the winter. To that end, I am looking to find the means to travel to Europe, and to cover the expenses of a small shoot in Poland and Belarus. With equipment in place, and translators and a cameraman in Poland willing to work for free, I just need to find a way to make my way over there. I’m asking for help to figure out how to do that, so if you know people who can help (or have travel agents in the family, or air miles you won’t use!), please let me know. If you know of people who might be able to figure out how to get me there, please let them (or me) know. There are only two months to cover until we hear back about funding, but they are important ones. Any ideas are appreciated!
In the end though, what I am contacting you for is to say thank you again. Please take the time to check out the short trailer. It's just over 2 minutes out of 50 hours that I've shot in North America, Europe, and Africa in the last several years, but it's a good representation of what it is I've been trying to do, and of the people whose stories I've been trying to tell: https://vimeo.com/99573982
And it's partly thanks to all of you that I've been able to do it.