The past three years have been busy, so much so that we must be excused for the lack of update. Since we last wrote, we have made three films, graduated from high school, and been featured at our very first film festival outside the U.S. We have also temporarily relocated. We write from the far distant lands of Taiwan (Sarah) and Belgium (Emma). We miss our Arkansas (and our family, but we try not to give them a big head by telling them that), but are having too much fun to miss it too much. Don't worry; we haven't been neglecting our filmmaking, as you will see for yourself in a little less than a year. Project Lingua Franca should hit the theaters sometime around August 2012 and that's all we have to say about that. In the interest of time, we'll spare you all the details of all our exploits these past years and will just hit the highlights.
The ill-fated documentary hinted at above never materialized due to a lack of information. We had never let a topic beat us like that before, but eleventh grade was busier than tenth and perhaps we were loosing our touch. We searched for months to find the minutes for the committee, but they seemed to have disappeared. Two years later at a presentation at the University of Fayetteville, we finally found out what happened to them. One of the archivists at the University library bought them at a garage sale a few months before we started looking for them but was on vacation the day we came to the library researching the committee. We briefly considered returning to the topic, but decided we didn't have the time. Perhaps one day we will.
In the middle of our eleventh grade year at Central, our history teacher came to us with a request. Would we please film the visit of Israeli peace activist, Gila Svirsky, when she came to Arkansas that spring? Film festival deadlines fast approaching and censorship committee documentary in ruins, we jumped at the opportunity. We decided to be more creative with this film than our others and attempted to make a "narrative documentary." It was fun being able to tell people what to say and how to act finally, but the combination of inadequate equipment, lack of experience, and our usual struggle with sound made the film less than noteworthy. It was aired as part of AETN's Student Selects, but broke our winning streak at the T Tauri Film Festival. After that disappointment, we didn't submit Meet You in Jerusalem to any other film festivals and have done our best to bury it in our resume. We also produced another short film for the Wolfe Street Foundation. We turned it into a music video for the Johnny Cash song "Walk the Line" and after the disaster of Jerusalem, it was a much-needed distraction.
Senior year we decided was too important to our future to spend time making another film. Between college applications, final SAT/ACT tests, and whatever else might happen between the first day of school and graduation, we were all ready to retire our film cameras for good. Fate (and by fate we mean our parents) had something else in mind, however. Our father was asked to curate an exhibition of Arkansas art for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation's Legacy weekend. Being the great supporter of our work that he is, he volunteered our services to document the exhibit for posterity's sake. College applications now submitted and grade point average safely secured, we had no excuse. What was meant to take only our one-week spring break turned into over three months of car trips, thirty interviews, and a solid month at the editing chair. But besides being long, hard, and the biggest single undertaking of our career, it was probably the most fun we've had on a film since we started (but if our father asks, it was only "okay".) Over the years, filmmaking had become a routine for us-- Sarah doing most of the pre-production, Emma practically glued to the editing chair during post. This gave us a chance to reconnect, both with each other and with our father. Everyone we met was so supportive and their insights into their work and their world was fascinating. Never have we been more proud to be Arkansan than we were then. It was the perfect way to say thank you and goodbye before our grand adventure overseas.
ARtists was completed too late for most of our regular film festivals, but we still have high hopes for it in the many new ones we have and will submit it to. We believe it bodes well that the first award to its name is our first official international film festival: the WorldKids Film Festival in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, while ARtists works its way around the globe (we hope), the next five years are set for us. All that time we didn't spend working on our films has paid off and in addition to our Rotary fellowships, we have both been accepted into our dream college, Wellesley. Together we will join the class of 2016 next fall. Emma plans to major in psychology and Sarah, camera and media studies with an emphasis on film history and film analysis.
Until next time, au revoir and 再見