we did it! the premiere went off without a hitch. we packed the house for the first screening. it was amazing to screen the film for the first time, and with over 600 people. it was cool to have to add a second screening on the same night.  the first laugh was a relief. it was an exciting evening, filled with electricity. here are a few photographs from the night. we feel humbled and blessed and excited about the future.

here is some initial press about the film: a viewer’s response in the bricklayer and a positive albeit confusing review in the advocate:

A Reflection

E for Everyone was a beautiful slap of realism in my comatose state.

Christmas is upon us. I walk again into the mall to buy yet another gift for yet another gift exchange at yet another Christmas party. Actually, I should be regifting the last three gift exchange gifts rather than buy yet another one. I’m surrounded by flashing lights, Christmas music, bustle of bodies, and an air of fanaticism. This is North American Christmas. I’m not filled. I want more. This is not it.

Sitting and watching the starving in Kenya on the screen slapped me. This voice from deep within me was screaming to be heard. My numbed brain tried to sort out what it could be. Emotion? Am I feeling something other than the empty feeling of living in comfort and never really having to feel anything. This was something different. I live life searching to feel something. Yet, I only scour one side of the spectrum: pleasure. I want to feel pleasure. I feed my senses. Sight, sound, taste, smell, touch. Literally, the second I feel discomfort – my numbed equilibrium becomes unbalanced and grow frantic trying to get comfortable again. If my heat in my office is a degree or two too cold, I complain and increase the heat and wear layered clothing. If I feel the smidge of a hunger pain, I immediately eat something (healthy or otherwise) to take the feeling away. Everything I do in life is to keep myself equalized and comfortable. I do this, because in theory – if I am comfortable I should be happy. Yet the movie continues to play itself over and over in my head. The African children running and playing naked… No clothes because they have no clothes. No shoes because they have no shoes. No food because they have no food. Their lives surround the need to survive and mine in contrast is surrounded by the need to be comfortable. The Kenyans feel pain and pleasure. I feel only numb and fleeting glimpses of unsustained pleasure.

Is to be human to feel? If it is, if we are emotional beings, than I am only half human or barely. In my rat race culture to earn more money and to buy more stuff I rarely, truly feel. Does this sound masochistic that I would want to feel pain and pleasure? Is this inhuman? I don’t think so. I think we were made to feel both pain and pleasure. This is weird. I watched the documentary and wanted to be in Africa at the survival state. I wanted to feel their pain as they did. I wanted to love as they did. I wanted to sell everything, leave it all and live where I would feel every day. Where I would fight to survive. Where the community and sense of belonging was what we seeked and desired and not the next version of playstation. I wonder if we have taken a wrong turn in seeking to abolish pain at every cost in our lives. I wonder that if in seeking to escape pain we have escaped ourselves… Maybe we should embrace pain because it makes us feel, it makes us real, it makes us human.

The slap was hard. I felt it. It felt great.

Thank you alumni and cohorts who worked on this film for slapping us. We needed it.

Kenton E. Biffert

By LAURA TESTER

Advocate staff

Watching a movie and walking out satisfied immediately after — that’s a good film.

Remembering it months or years later because it somehow captivated you — that’s a great film.

E for Everyone: The Mouse and The Elephant, a film produced by Red Deer’s Unveil Studios, has the potential of being a great one.

The film crew premiered their movie in front of a packed crowd at the Red Deer College Arts Centre Monday night.

The audience definitely got their money’s worth.

The film centres on a psychology student, played by Joel Krogman, and his best friend, played by Steve Neufeld, as they embark on a global quest to investigate some of humanity’s biggest questions.

They question something George Clooney, Bill Gates and other international hotshots are constantly asking right now: Why don’t people of economic means put a stop to preventable suffering in the world?

One horrifying image I won’t forget is that of a woman with AIDS languishing on a bed in a darkened hut in Kenya. She is so skinny that when the blanket is pulled away, all we see is skin and bones — and part of her breast is mangled.

We then see Krogman outside the hut afterwards, wiping tears from his eyes while he’s being consoled by Neufeld.

It’s the most heartfelt moment we see in the film between these two men.

This film is beautifully shot under the direction of Matthew Kooman and his brother Daniel, director of photography. There’s times when we see mall shoppers at break-neck speed in the Western world. We’ll also see a peaceful Krogman standing in a rail car, with the sunset in the background. Magnificent.

And the Kooman brothers take creative risks too. There’s one shot of Krogman and Neufeld driving away in a car. As it pulls forward, the camera moves backward. Neat.

And the world music is superbly intertwined throughout the film.

There are three main criticisms to this film.

There were scenes that could have been left out or shortened. The scene about the camels was cute, but too long. The billboard scenes (especially the one with Red Deer pastor Stan Schalk), I was confused by their significance.

The acting within the documentary doesn’t work.

Krogman and Neufeld could have played themselves — two young Canadians from a mid-size city — and it would have worked much better. Neufeld didn’t seem comfortable playing the jokester, when we saw him in front of the camera.

Sometimes the conversations between Krogman and Neufeld were too preachy.

After seeing a Kenyan refugee camp in squalor conditions, Neufeld said, “I can’t believe no one has put a stop to it.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying,” Krogman said.

“Our culture is one that lets us keep consuming and buying.. while this problem isn’t being addressed.”

It’s a real balancing act between being too preachy and not saying enough about the facts in a documentary. Krogman delivered some great facts during narration, which I think worked.

We saw images of “untouchable” children living in pipes in India. We saw people from London, England, being interviewed about their needs and desires. They will tell the story.

E for Everyone: The Mouse and The Elephant is thought-provoking. It will get you thinking about what more you can do in the world to help ease people’s insufferable conditions. To create more global happiness. And whether there is a spiritual void that must be filled in the world.

Overall, this was a well done film that took this talented 20-something crew three years in the making. Other crew members are production designer Emily Neufeld and boom operator Andrew Kooman.

I thought the ending too was great, but I won’t give it away in case you have the chance to see the film.

This was Unveil Studio’s first feature film, so I hope we’ll see more soon.

E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant will be shown at a couple of upcoming festivals in the United States.

Stay tuned to see if the film will be shown at more Central Alberta locations.

Contact Laura Tester at ltester@reddeeradvocate.com

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