Thursday, August 11, 2011

Under the Pearl Moon

What happens when an eleven-year-old urban girl is forced to live in a remote cabin with an eccentric aunt? And what happens when that same aunt– a long time activist and a woman driven with worry for the environment– chooses to live a no-garbage lifestyle. Years ago, I visited a friend of mine in Atikokan who had taken on that very task. She had reduced her garbage down to one small plastic bag a month. At the time, I was so inspired by her dedication that I, along with composer Lise Vaugeois and performer Jennifer Garrett, wrote and toured a theatre piece, then titled “Under the Moon with Aunt Birdie”. (Incidentally, this will be produced this season by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra).

During our performance run, we invited filmmaker Sonja Obljubek, to film archival footage. She thought it would make a great premise for a film. This percolated in the back of my mind for years until one day, I picked up my pen and wrote a film script, (well, not all in one day, naturally), re-titling it “Under the Pearl Moon”. Once I could think and create in a visual language, the story expanded to include neighbours, a boy with a bit of a chip on his shoulders, a woman with vision loss, and an ancient pine tree. Out of necessity, this eclectic group becomes Pearl's community. And in the end, it is Pearl who discovers a true and lasting relationship with the natural world, rather than her aunt.

Children, I fear, are not sometimes not encouraged or given opportunities to develop connections with the natural world. It is my firm belief that without this connection, we are all deeply deprived. It is one of our most basic human rights; to have access to the natural world. Only then will any of us have the passion and desire to truly become responsible stewards of our earth.

If you want to contribute and be a part of this wonderful project, click here.

Late last summer, we filmed a demo scene of Under the Pearl Moon. As this has been developing for years, other components and community people have become part of this project. Filmmaker Sonja Obljubek will co-direct the piece with myself. Lise Vaugeois will incorporate some of the music she originally composed. Eco Superior Thunder Bay has contributed to the educational component of this project. As well as producing the film, environmental-arts lesson plans have been developed for teachers to use in classrooms. As funding comes into place, these lesson plans will be delivered by artist educators throughout the province. As well, an educational package and website will be made available to teachers across the county. The film itself will visit environmental film festivals worldwide.

It's a tall project with a tall order. Our message, in a nutshell is, “come play and be inspired within the natural world”. We have some funding but we are striving first to complete the film, and secondly to delight and inspire family audiences everywhere. And to do this, we need additional support. Will you invest in this vision? Ultimately, it is our way of giving back to this extraordinary planet, and encouraging stewardship for all.

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