Starting with the AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs film festival in June, we had the world premiere of our new film The Philosopher Kings which was brought back after two sold out screenings by popular demand for a third screening.
We did a Q+A with the audience after the second screening and were excited by the enthusiasm people had about the personal stories of the custodians, particularly Josue Lajeunesse of Princeton University who works nearly 20 hours a day between two jobs in order to earn enough money to send resources home to his native Haiti so that the villagers in his tiny rural home can have access to clean water without having to walk 25 miles round trip to get it. (We are at work on helping Josue establish a permanent water system in the village and will be helping to not only implement this system but also documenting its construction throughout the rest of 2009 and into 2010).
The custodian superstars of the film were almost all onhand for the event at Silverdocs. After the film screened and they were introduced and walked out of the audience, all in suits, it was as if the heroes of the film had literally jumped off the screen and come to life. Hearing them tell their stories was so compelling onscreen, and then to hear and see those stories reiterated live was just perfect.
The film ultimately is about listening to those individuals who we normally ignore, or who are invisible to us. For the invisible to be unquestionably visible at Silverdocs was the culmination of a vision for Patrick and for me. We were honored to share it with the custodians themselves and to have them essentially run the show.
After Silverdocs, TRIAL played a great show in the Czech Republic at Fluff Fest for over 3000 people. The connections made there were unreal. Friends from all over the world were together both at that show and at the show the next week in Stockholm Sweden to experience connection and vitality.
After the TRIAL shows, I screened Flight From Death to a group of Ukrainian and Russian young people (photo of our post-film discussion below) within Ravensbruck, the former women's concentration camp, in Germany. We also held a screening in Weimar (very close to the Buchenwald camp) to an enthusiastic audience who stayed for ninety minutes after the film finished to discuss the ideas in it! To screen in such historically significant places was the culmination of a dream: to put ideas that matter in places of significance and discuss the feelings and ideas which result from that experience.
Upon returning home, I travelled to Cornell for the American university premiere of The Philosopher Kings. The event went so far beyond any expectations we could have had. Read the review here to see the effect the film had not only on our custodian stars, but also on the audience. Patrick and I have shared some incredible experiences in our film career over the last six years. But little can compare to the the moment when at the first screening (a private screening for Cornell custodial staff all of whom showed up in their red work shirts), our custodians walked out onto the stage for the Q+A session after the film. The entire audience of 600+ stood as one, all wearing their Cornell red shirts, in a standing ovation for their coworkers onstage. There was so much pride in the room and the applause was deafening.
Since Cornell, I have been looking forward to screenings and film festivals across North America, recording a record in Canada with my new band Between Earth and Sky, and beginning work on a book project about living passionately and pushing one's limits.
The current screening schedule for The Philosopher Kings looks like this. Dates with an asterisk are ones where we will be in attendance to do Q+A sessions and to present the film in person.
October 24th - San Francisco, CA - SF Int'l Doc Fest (Oct 16-28)* - West Coast Premiere
October 28th - San Diego, CA - San Diego Asian Film Festival (Oct 15-29)