Oh, what a wonderfully exhausting two months it’s been! I’ve traveled to Montreal, Chicago, Indiana, Martha’s Vineyard, Iowa, Trenton and just down the street in my residence of Philadelphia, all for screenings of my film, ALASKLAND!
With every single screening, what gets me most excited is talking with and meeting people afterwards. And I’m not even particularly interested in talking with them about my film. I’m interested in where they came from and the experiences that have effected their viewpoints and the conversations we have. I’m interested in what they don’t say, and observing how they say the things that they do. I’m especially interested in talking with young people. I had the privilege and honor of interacting with students from Drake University and my alma mater, DePauw University. I had the opportunity to listen to them about their experiences and hopes for and trepidations about the future. Hearing these students reminded me that I’m living for more than just myself (which is a huge reason why I teach).
At almost every screening, Nigerians, Africans and other immigrants represented in the audience, and several of them told me they saw themselves in these characters I had created. Some recounted anecdotes of their own personal battles juggling cultural dichotomies. This was amazing to me: creating something that evoked emotion out of people, inspired them, made them think.
And even beyond connecting with strangers, I’ve been able to share each screening with different people from past and present, and that has been one of the most fulfilling rewards from this entire festival circuit experience. Any success I have is not in a vacuum; rather, they are a result of having lifelong communities of people that have affirmed me and/or supported me. So to be able to share such a momentous achievement with people I love and that love me, has, literally, brought me to tears.
That’s why when we bring the film home to Fairbanks, Alaska on December 7th, the screening will be extra special – I get to share it with my community.
These past two months, I’ve been privileged to connect with humanity in a way that has refocused me and my filmmaking. I’ve had to talk about my work in a philosophical way, dissecting the reasons why I want to tell the stories that I tell and their potential larger impact on society. I’ve also had the opportunity to interact with different kinds of art – paintings, sculptures, experimental films, photography, etc. – and a myriad of artists that have inspired me to experiment in different directions for my own films, and I’ve been doing just that these days.
I’ve been working on a few projects that you’ll be hearing about soon enough.
I’m excited about the work I’m creating now because they are drastically different than anything I’ve ever done before. The work I’m creating now represents a new chapter in my artistic development and storytelling, and I am so incredibly excited to share it with the world! (I was so excited a few nights ago, I, literally, couldn’t sleep!)
It’s an interesting experience being in the middle of the festival circuit with a feature film, while working on several other film projects, especially when the latter are so drastically different than the feature. I’m in different phases for each project, so I constantly have to readjust my frame of mind when working on them.
But in this very moment, I am very much present in my ALASKALAND journey. I have more festival and University screenings of the film to look forward to, as well as working to solidify a release sometime next year. As mentioned, we’ll be doing our big Alaska premier in December. We are dedicating the Fairbanks screening to Adrina Knutson, the ALASKALAND set designer and UAF film student who tragically passed away a few months ago. Our hearts are still heavy over her passing.
I am incredibly grateful to be having these opportunities to share my stories with pockets of the world. I look forward to bringing the film to my Alaskan family. I’m so excited to soon start talking about the new work I’ve been creating. I am in the most unbelievable amazing place in my journey right now, and what amazes me even more is that it’s only just begun.
Much, much, much more to come.
Lovin’ the Energy in Philly!
Just Arriving in Chicago!
Having a Ball in Chi-Town!
Posing With An Amazing Filmmaker That Reps South Africa!
My DePauw Crew in the House!!
Drake University Students Representing!