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This article was published 30/5/2019 (270 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
How can young people survive and thrive amid the growing epidemic of selfies, social media and technology?
It’s a question explored in "Selfless," a documentary showing Friday in the Evans Theatre at Brandon University.
"We made this film just out of concern, because we looked around and all we could see was heads down, faces not engaged in one another," director Kim Laureen said in a telephone interview Wednesday. Laureen and producer daughter Megan Dirksen run Fresh Independence Productions Ltd. in Vancouver.
"It really made us question, you know, where are we leading the next generation," Laureen said. "We started looking around and all the statistics said everything was so much doom and gloom — anxiety and depression are on the rise and university professors are telling us they’ve never seen so much anxiety come through their classroom doors."
They decided to make a film that offers hope and gives parents and others tools to work with and navigate this new time we all live in, Laureen said.
One day while out walking, Laureen and Dirksen pondered the question: "If a girl lived in the forest with no mirrors, magazines or social media, what would beautiful look like to her and how would she view herself?"
Their journey of discovery began in the hills of Devon, England, where Kuki Warburton and her family live off the grid.
They had conducted a music interview with Kuki and her brother Izzi a couple of years before.
"We really wanted to connect with a life more simple, and the Warburton family invited us to come up there and spend time," Laureen said. "We did that and we really got to see a life more simple than ours.
They do have technology, she added. "The difference is, they’re not slaves to it. It works for them and not the other way around."
From there, the camera heads into classrooms in Canada and the United States.
"We just talked real time with kids about the challenges they have today," said Laureen, a mother of eight herself.
They also spoke to a family counsellor, an optometrist, a sleep-science doctor and even a physiotherapist.
"We get into how technology is affecting us as a result of so much screen time," she said. "It really is a film that opens the heart up and gets it to feel something that we don’t do often enough in this noisy, busy world."
Those who go in to watch the film don’t expect to come out feeling so good when they walk out, she said.
"What Meg and I believe is that reconnection is a viable option for everyone, but it has to be a conscious choice that we make each day."
The documentary, which Laureen said has garnered outstanding reviews from HBO Documentaries, took the pair about 18 months and $40,000 to produce.
With an extremely limited budget, that wasn’t easy.
"We had no funding, so that was a huge issue for us," she said.
They tried unsuccessfully to pitch their film to backers. "We were first-time filmmakers. No one really wanted to take a chance on us."
Instead, she used the Air Miles she had accumulated from years of grocery shopping to travel from location to location to shoot the film.
"I always like to say that which nourished my family also fed this story, and that’s how we literally willed it into existence."
Filmed in 4K high resolution, the 90-minute documentary, which came out just after Christmas, has been presented in schools and youth groups in Canada and the U.S. and will be premiered in the United Kingdom in September as well as in Germany.
Rotary clubs have also embraced the documentary and are sponsoring screenings, Laureen said.
The documentary starts at 7:30 p.m.
This is a special screening and Evans Theatre passes will not be accepted.
» Twitter: @BudRobertson4