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As a kid I was blessed with parents who loved books, and especially lucky that Ursula K. Le Guin was one of the names on the shelf. I spent hours immersed in the legendary author’s fantastical worlds. Le Guin’s work remained important to me as I grew up into a documentary filmmaker who was challenged, in my work, to explore the other worlds we brush past every day. I kept coming back to the story of that great writer-magician who first set me on the path.
Now I’m here to ask for your help in completing WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN, my feature documentary about Le Guin’s life, work, and legacy.
For the past seven years, I’ve had the tremendous honor of filming dozens of hours with Ms. Le Guin, now 86. My exceptional team includes post-production supervisor Camille Servan-Schreiber (The Rape of Europa), cinematographer Andrew Black (Fahrenheit 911, Weather Underground), and consulting producer Jason Cohn, co-director of the Peabody Award-winning American Masters film EAMES: The Architect and the Painter.
The time for this film is now. This summer, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN a prestigious production grant. This gives us an enormous push toward completing the hour-long documentary, which is aimed for broad public television, web, DVD, and educational distribution.
But here’s the catch: The NEH won’t release those funds until the entire production budget has been raised. That’s why we’re asking for your help to raise $80,000 here on Kickstarter. We’ve already completed the film’s research phase, and amassed most of the interviews, photographs, and other materials we need. The money we raise during this campaign will go toward specific finishing costs:
Ursula K. Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the frontier of American letters until the sheer excellence of her work finally forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. By elevating science fiction from mind candy to serious speculation, she opened doors for younger mainstream writers like Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and Jonathan Lethem to explore fantastic elements in their work.
In the film, we’ll accompany Le Guin on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. To tell this story, the film reaches into the past as well as the future – to a childhood steeped in the myths and stories of disappeared Native peoples Le Guin absorbed as the daughter of prominent California anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and author Theodora Kroeber.
Le Guin’s story allows audiences to reflect on science fiction’s unique role in American culture, as a conduit for our utopian dreams, apocalyptic fears, and tempestuous romance with technology. More than ever, we need to perform the kinds of thought experiments that Le Guin pioneered, to ask how we should behave as our technologies transform us beyond the wildest dreams of our grandparents.
We’re working toward an enduring, thoughtful, and gorgeous documentary by the middle of 2017. We can succeed with your help. Thank you for reading, for contributing if you can, and for spreading the word, through all of your worlds, about WORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN.
Spread the word! Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, old-fashioned email and older-fashioned word-of-mouth to share the link to this campaign and help rally support forWORLDS OF URSULA K. LE GUIN. The more fans and potential fans know about the film, the stronger our community becomes, and the closer we get to reaching our goal.
We’re pleased to offer an array of rewards to those who generously support this Kickstarter campaign. Just check out this nerd-chic Earthsea tote bag! At the higher donation levels, we’re offering signed novels, signed Earthsea map prints, and even a personal recorded audio message addressed to you from Le Guin herself. And that’s just for starters.
Arwen Curry (Director & Producer) has spent her career working on films about game-changing creative Americans. She was Associate Producer and Archivist of the PBS American Masters film EAMES: The Architect and the Painter (2011). She also associate-producedAmerican Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco (2013), and the acclaimed HBO film Regarding Susan Sontag (2014). Between 2012 and 2014, Arwen worked on five 30-minute science and technology documentaries for San Francisco’s PBS member station KQED, on subjects ranging from reawakening extinct species to the new era of space exploration. Her short documentary Stuffed took viewers into the lives and homes of compulsive hoarders to better understand our connection to the things we own. She is an SF Bay Area native and a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she studied documentary film with Jon Else (The Day After Trinity), Debbie Hoffmann and Frances Reid (The Times of Harvey Milk). Arwen was editor of the punk magazine Maximum Rock’n’Roll from 1998 to 2004. She also writes for magazines, radio, and film.
Jason Cohn (Consulting Producer) is the producer, writer and director of the Peabody Award-winning EAMES: The Architect and the Painter which aired nationally on PBS American Masters in 2011, following a successful theatrical release. His short documentary, Bible Belt Atheist premiered on the New York Times Op-Docs channel in 2015. Jason has produced segments for the PBS program Frontline World, associate-produced for Frontline and field produced for the award-winning PBS series Remaking American Medicine. He was the writer of The Secrets of J. Edgar Hoover for the National Geographic Channel and Ending AIDS for PBS. He was the Los Angeles bureau news producer for the Japan Broadcast Corporation (NHK). His radio reports have been heard on nationally syndicated public radio programs like Pacific Time and Beyond Computers. He has written National Affairs for Rolling Stone magazine and his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and other major periodicals.
Camille Servan-Schreiber (Post-Production Supervisor) has worked in documentary film since 1998 and has received numerous awards including a Golden Spire Award from the San Francisco Film Festival. Her latest project, Bible Belt Atheist, premiered in 2015 on The New York Times OpDocs channel. She recently produced American Jerusalem: Jews and The Making of San Francisco. She was a producer of “EAMES: The Architect and the Painter,” directed and produced The Secrets of J. Edgar Hoover for National Geographic and co-produced The Nobel: Visions of a Century for KQED. She also produced and filmed three segments of the PBS series The New Heroes and three segments of Frontline World for PBS. She received a broadband Emmy nomination for France: Soundtrack to a Riot. Camille was a field producer on The Rape of Europa for PBS and on Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution for American Masters.
Andrew Black (Director of Photography) shoots acclaimed features and documentaries, including Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 and Sicko. He shot the Academy Award-nominated “The Weather Underground” by Sam Green and Bill Siegel. His work has appeared on many broadcast venues, most recently in a national PBS broadcast of Bill Siegel’s The Trials of Muhammad Ali and the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary 50 Children by Steven Pressman. Every year, Andy films the Emmy Award-winning The New Environmentalists, a PBS show that features environmentalists from around the world. Other recent credits include Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality For All and the national Emmy Award-winning series Years of Living Dangerously for National Geographic. With Sam Green, he co-created an exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California entitled A Cinematic Study of Fog. Mr. Black works all over the world and lives in San Francisco, California.
Nina Goodby (Associate Producer) is a producer and editor based in Oakland, California. She has shepherded documentaries to PBS and HBO, produced videos for the New York Times, and worked as a radio producer at WNYC in New York. She studied documentary filmmaking at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.