“FINDING NORTH” | directors, Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Sunday, January 22 6:00 pm –Temple Theatre, Park City]
49 million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It’s a shocking statistic, but how do you turn a stat into a story? My answer is deceivingly simple: you make a movie.
No art form can truly make us feel another person’s pain, or joy, or hunger. It’s our own emotions and imaginations that bring any art form to life. But film, in my experience, is the most powerful conduit between one person’s experience and an audience. As a filmmaker, I consider making that connection to be among my most cherished responsibilities and fulfilling rewards. It’s a cycle of storytelling that has the potential to change all of us – the subject, the filmmaker, and the audience.
It reminds me of the great film experiences of my life – those experiences I’m aiming for when making my own films. Like the first time I saw Harlan County, USA by Barbara Kopple. There are unforgettable moments in that film, like when Lois Scott, small town wife and mother, pulls a gun out of her blouse, or when the crew is attacked while filming a picket line before dawn. Those are the cinematic moments that make you want to jump out of your seat and scream at the screen. Those experiences stay with us when we leave the theater and have the potential to change us forever.
There were moments in the production of Finding North that I’ll never forget. Like the feeling in my stomach when one of our characters, a young girl named Rosie, invited us to see the bedroom she shares with her sister. It’s a powerful scene in the film and I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s fair to say that my reaction was a complex mix of heartache, sympathy and outrage. That those emotions can be recreated by film is one of the medium’s true miracles.
Filmmaking is also a truly collaborative process and an opportunity to bring together incredible teams of storytellers – another reason why film is my medium of choice. The true reward for me, though, is yet to come. That begins in Park City, in a room full of strangers, when the light first hits the screen, and the cycle of storytelling is completed.
I’m a filmmaker because I consider film to be at once the most personal and public form of storytelling there is.
I think movies are the closest we can get to an immersive, vicarious experience of another person’s life, a chance to walk in their shoes without judgment. I’m an optimist; I guess I hope it leads viewers to see how much more alike we are than different, and open their hearts to the struggles of others.
Finding North is a departure for me from narrative features space to documentary features. I love the visual style of verité – always have – so stylistically making a documentary wasn’t a huge leap. But I learned pretty quickly that the skill lies not in writing the script, but in recognizing the moment.