Local filmmaker Ned Warner, who launched his video production and design company Juna Creativeworks last year, is set to release a short film soon about Leadville resident Bekah Grim, a dog musher, novelist and playwright. The film was coproduced with Dirk Rasmussen, another Leadville resident.
“Mother Daughter” took months to create. There were countless interviews between Warner and Grim, and a seemingly impossible body of work to sift through once editing began, said Warner. The film explores multiple facets of Grim’s life, including her relationship with family, her passion for dogs and her obsession with writing.
Earlier this year, “Mother Daughter” was selected for inclusion in this year’s Cannes Short Film Festival, an annual event in Cannes, France that celebrates indie films from around the world. The film, alive with scenes of bliss, tears and healing, will screen locally at FREIGHT on March 5.
“You really get to watch Bekah grow and change throughout the film,” said Warner. “She has this amazing impact on everyone around her and it was just great getting to know her. I’m grateful she shared her story and can’t wait to share this film.”
When Warner first approached Grim about creating a film, the idea was to tell a dog-mushing story. Grim, who works at Alpine Adventures Dogsledding near Leadville, imagined scenes of wind blowing through her hair as she mushed a team of dogs across the frozen tundra, the sun setting behind her. But the film quickly took a different turn.
During one of their first interviews together, Warner and Grim talked about much more than dog mushing. Instead, their conversation morphed into a reflection on Bekah’s childhood and her relationship with her parents, which was once rife with conflict. From then on, Warner’s questions grew deeper and Grim embraced the meditation on her past. “That’s when I knew the film was about more than dog mushing,” said Warner.
As the title suggests, “Mother Daughter” is partially about Grim’s relationship with her mother, who is also included in the film. But Warner also draws from several other scenes and relationships in Grim’s life. Grim’s favorite part of the film takes place during the premier of “Bitterbush: A Family Saga,” a play that Grim wrote with her partner Blue Mooers.
The comedic play, which chronicles a family on the verge of rupture, premiered at FREIGHT last year. According to Grim, “Bitterbush: A Family Saga” was a play produced and put on by friends, and Warner captures that dynamic in “Mother Daughter.” The scenes are bursting with the unabashed expressions of old friends united by artistic pursuits, an important moment for Grim who said she’s happy made the film.
The production of “Mother Daughter” coincided with Grim’s effort to finish a novel. Entitled “Rig to Flip,” a rafting term that dates back to when Grim was a guide on the Arkansas River, the book was initially meant to be a collection of essays. Later on, it became a memoir, addressing many of the same topics touch on it “Mother Daughter.” For Grim, reflecting on her past through the two mediums has helped her resonate with and communicate that past.
Despite the emphasis on Grim’s past, the film also shows the playwright standing proudly in her present. Grim moved to the Arkansas River Valley in 2007 and to Leadville about six years ago. She said she’s found a new life here, surrounded by dogs that she might one day guide on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and writing in the mountains on warm summer days.
Warner added that producing the film was also therapeutic for him. After years of filmmaking in his 20s, “Mother Daughter” is Warner’s first video project in about a decade. Now, the filmmaker wants to push himself in his career by telling peoples’ stories in an authentic way.
“I believe there are stories in every single crack of the universe,” said Warner. “It’s just a matter of who will listen to them.”
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