still shot from e for everyone

Locally produced documentary tells powerful story is the title to the glowing article and review Mark Weber from the Red Deer Express gave E for Everyone a fantastic review in this weeks’ paper.

Read the review:

Locally produced documentary tells powerful story

Red Deer Express

A film created by a team of Red Deer filmmakers is destined to have a far-reaching impact on how prosperous folks view the developing world.

E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant was recently screened to a packed house at the Arts Centre by Red Deer-based Unveil Studios.

Put together as a fictional story within a documentary, the film follows Joel, a psychology student, who makes a documentary about the way people from developed and developing nations seek happiness.

His friend Steve serves as cameraman on the trip to Kenya, India and Thailand.

It’s an affecting, amazing journey as the duo encounter horrific circumstances in poverty-wracked India and Africa. And of course, the men are gradually changed by what they see.

Those scenes stand in stark contrast to those shot in North America and England, where relatively well-off westerners mull over what they perceive as ‘needs’ and sources of happiness.

The project was filmed over a 99-day trek earlier this year and about 100 interviews were conducted.

Directed by Matthew Kooman, the film is outstanding – it’s poignant, engaging and deeply thought-provoking.

Rounding out the talented crew behind the project are Stephen Neufeld, Emily Neufeld, Andrew Kooman, Joel Krogman, Pam Halvorson and Daniel Kooman.

Ultimately, the film generously gives audiences much to ponder, and speaks most effectively when the people caught in the realities of hunger, poverty and oppression are free to tell their stories.

Of course, the beautifully captured images tell a million stories as well — shots of expressions, run-down slums and tears work wonders in spurring impact. The music selected also perfectly enhances what unfolds.

The only snag, in my view, are the specifically acted portions of the film — it’s risky melding a story into a documentary.

And as raw documentary with the honest, authentic reactions of the two men woven in, the project works tremendously.

But in some scenes where characters Joel and Steve talk about what they’ve witnessed, momentum tends to stall.

But that is a minor quibble and does nothing to impede the ultimate messages of E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant.

It’s not just a challenging piece, there’s also something truly artful and consistently inspiring about it. It also finds the correct balance of maintaining a solid impact without being overly emotionally forceful. There’s plenty of conviction, but no condemnation as well.

Certain scenes are unforgettable, such as those shot in India where the country’s caste system includes people called ‘dalits’ or utterly untouchable. The fact that humans can be deemed as ‘untouchable’ is heartbreaking, and the realities of what they endure everyday come through intensely.

What a pleasure to see local artists join forces on such a meaningful project – three years in the making.

It’s also exciting to know the film is on its way to at least two film festivals in 2008. Let’s hope audiences around the world check out what is an exceptional piece of work.

DVDs will be available eventually. Check out 309-5459