Thursday, 05 May 2016 14:01

10 short films about life on the southern Prairies premiere May 6-14

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Over the summer and fall of 2015, filmmaker Scott Parker travelled nearly 30,000 km making 10 short films and teaching community filmmaking workshops along the way.


The stories told in The Grasslands Project were generated by people from local communities and filmed in towns across the southern Prairies.
Even if a person isn’t in one of the films, he or she will likely know somebody who is.
Each documentary is a beautiful portrait of prairie life. The southern Prairies are among the most accessible, but also the least known, of all the regions in Canada. The rolling hills and waving grasses, the small towns and family farms, the bake sales and fall suppers are all there. The winters are cold, the summers hot and everything sometimes seems a thousand miles away. It is a land of many stories, and a new collection of films from the National Film Board of Canada brings some of these stories to audiences across the nation and around the world.
The Grasslands Project, as it became known, was conceived and designed by Parker in concert with NFB Executive Producer David Christensen.
Parker then travelled to the area, headquartered himself in the small Saskatchewan town of Eastend and began the extensive community engagement the project would require if it was to be successful either cinematically or as an outreach action.
As Parker was the point man of this engagement, it was decided he would also be the only filmmaker creating the 10 short documentaries.
Over several weeks, he managed to form strong, trusting relationships with many people who would be instrumental in making the films, so the NFB team organized a camera and sound package uniquely suited to a single filmmaker operating in the field, and an edit suite was set up in Eastend.
Parker would live in the town for six months while shooting and editing the films, and he spent about two months living out of his “mobile production unit.”
In addition to the 10 short films, The Grasslands Project aimed to hold 10 community media workshops across the south; in the end, due to popular demand, 12 were held.
Participants included journalists, librarians, historians, prospective actors, Indigenous youth, agriculture insiders, bloggers, youth with complex physical disabilities, teachers, students, and federal inmates.
Parker developed and led each and every one of the workshops.
The project was fortunate to team up with local folklorist and writer Kristin Catherwood, who was instrumental in clarifying the ideals behind it and helping workshop participants understand the relationship between place and story.
There is power in people telling their own stories back to themselves, and while not all the workshops had a profound outcome, many did.
They not only provided people with the fundamentals of making their own short films but also demonstrated the power of story and film and film indeed has power.
The finished documentaries are rough and unprofessional, but, to the participants, both the process and product were transformative.
Free admission; all are welcome. Seating is limited, so arrive early with the world premiere tour May 6-14.
• MAGRATH — Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Magrath Museum;
• COUTTS — Saturday, May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Coutts Civic Centre;
• FOREMOST — Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m. at the Foremost Community Hall;
• VAL MARIE — Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the Val Marie Community Hall Palais Royale Theatre;
• ROCKGLEN — Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. at the New Horizon Drop-In Centre;
• RADVILLE — Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Radville Community Centre;
• GRAVELBOURG — Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Gaiety Theatre;
• WOOD MOUNTAIN — Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at the Wood Mountain Community Hall;
• EASTEND — Saturday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Eastend Memorial Hall.
Follow the Grasslands Project on: Facebook.com/GrasslandsProject.
For more information, phone 780-495-5457.

Read 920 times Last modified on Friday, 06 May 2016 04:48
Ryan Dahlman

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