[I've found - at video.nymag.com - what appears to be the short we saw in 2007 and some of the main characters, including Vanessa, are played by different actors. I was close, it's 11 minutes. The color on here isn't as rich]
And it came back to the Festival in 2009 as a feature length film. And it got an audience award in the feature class that year.
Suzi Yoonessi, the director, emailed me the other day to say the movie would be released VOD (she thought I was hipper than I am and it took me a while to figure out that means video on demand) on Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, and Verizon Fios in Alaska on March 4th. It will be released in LA that date too in theaters. Then March 11 in New York. If it does ok in those places, the rest of the world might be able to see it in theaters too.
But as I went to look for more information I found info on the movie, but the Alaska star's name wasn't included. Savanah Wiltforng - an Alaska Native teen - plays the lead role of and assimilated Yup'ik who gets the Native scholarship to a boarding school in Fairbanks and because she has the scholarship people expect her to be expert in all things Native which she then has to become.
Here's an example from IMDB - where's Savanah's name? It's not there.
|Screen Capture from IMDB - so this is an image, the links won't work except IMDB|
Here's the official poster:
When I asked by email what happened to the star in the publicity, Suzi Yoonessi, the writer and director (can you find her on the poster?) wrote back, in part:
Savanah is included in the materials that our PR people send out, but it seems the popular teen sites are really focused on Meaghan Jette Martin or Vanessa Marano, since they have larger fan bases. This isn't a bad thing, since kids will make it out to see an indie film because of Meaghan's popularity in more mainstream material.Maybe my readers are cooler than I am (or teenier) and recognize those other two names. I get it though. The point is to hook people to what they know. I get it. Let's see if it works.
The director spoke after the short version in 2007 and surprised me by saying the story takes place at a boarding school in Fairbanks, but because it was so expensive to do it in Fairbanks, she was doing most of it in Washington State. I posted about that and asked Fairbanks folks to contact her if they could help with housing and other services, but it didn't happen.
It came back to the Anchorage International Film Festival in 2009 as a feature length film. I liked everything about it, EXCEPT that it purported to be in Fairbanks. If Fairbanks residents want to see what there town will look like after 50 more years of global climate change, then check out the movie. You'll be hanging around in your shorts and t-shirts on the grass mid-winter. But Anchorage audiences voted it, as I said, an Audience Choice Award for what that's worth.
Suzi made this film as an independent. That means she made every penny stretch as far as it could go - which didn't reach all the way to Fairbanks except for a few location shots as I understand it. The State Film Board hadn't reopened yet. Now that there are tax advantages for film makers on location in Alaska, let's hope this is the last 'green December in Fairbanks' movie until the weather has really changed that much.
On the good side were great acting, interesting characters, and a good story about an assimilated Alaska Native girl discovering her Native roots. It does use the underdogs in competition theme, but has a sweet - I'm tempted to say quirkiness, but it's only quirky for a movie. These are real kids who just aren't the cheerleader types that most common in Hollywood type movies.
And it starred a young woman from Eagle River - Savannah Wiltfong.
So, Alaskans, check it out. My first reaction to the Dear Lemon Lima website was it was waay to girlie for me, but it is original and it captures an aspect of the film.
Here's the trailer.
(Think this is too promotional? Trust me. Like always, no one has paid me to write this. I just think pushing a film by an indendent director - and Indian-American woman if I'm correct - dealing with Alaska Native assimilation and then discovery of her Native culture, starring an Alaskan, with a (unfortunately fake) Fairbanks setting is the right thing to do. I'm just letting people know it's there.)