Hollywood’s lack of creativity – remaking remakes, sequels upon sequels and a never-ending supply of superhero flicks – have some moviegoers yearning for more depth. That is what Raven Narratives local storytelling series co-founder Sarah Syverson and former Durango Film Festival program coordinator Jane Julian think.
The two storytellers organized the first-ever Mancos Doc Fest, a documentary film festival that will be held Oct. 12 and 13 at the Mancos Opera House.
“It is no secret that (documentary) is my favorite genre,” Julian said. “I love true stories. I love to know what makes people tick.”
Julian, who also co-founded the Durango Film Society and is program director for the Port Townsend Film Festival in Washington, had always wanted to throw a documentary film festival in Durango. It was Syverson, who is a Mancos Creative District member, who suggested Mancos as the location.
“It was ripe for the picking. It seemed like a great environment,” Julian said about the community and the Mancos Opera House.
Syverson said the festival is an extension of the MCD’s We All Belong art project. The art district received a grant by Colorado Creative Industries that will fund the Oct. 19 and 20 Raven Narratives events, a public sculpture and documentary short by John Sheedy, a documentary filmmaker who also produces international film festival Festival del Cine in Alamos, Mexico. The theme of this month’s Raven Narratives and the doc fest are also “Belonging.”
Sheedy was selected to document the story of Rosa Sabido, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in Cortez for more than 30 years. Sabido was denied her most recent Stay of Removal by Immigration Customs Enforcement because of the current administration’s tougher immigration laws. Sabido sought sanctuary at Mancos United Methodist Church more than a year ago. She is unable to step foot off church boundaries without the risk of being deported and was unable to say her final goodbyes in person to her mother before her mother passed away this year. But it hasn’t all been bad.
“The community has been supportive,” Sheedy said. “I was blown away that this lady has no free time. People are always coming over to cook with her or do yoga.”
Sheedy said he personally knows the challenges of becoming a citizen because his wife is originally from Mexico, but the purpose of the film goes beyond shedding light on immigration issues.
“I realize this is more than just documenting the sanctuary but realizing there is a real personal story,” he said.
Sabido loves to cook and ran a food truck in Cortez before she had to move into the church. She is in the process of potentially making a sanctuary cookbook with her favorite recipes.
The filming process is not complete because Sheedy wants to see the story through.
A preview for “Rosa’s Sanctuary” will close the festival on Oct. 13.
During Sheedy’s time in Mancos, he filmed another short, “Mancos Home Grown,” where he profiled four vastly different community members – from an old rancher to a millennial yoga studio owner. The short will be shown Oct. 13 after the first feature-length film.
Julian said it was not difficult to find other films that fit the “Belonging” theme. Films such as “Unbranded” about four men from Texas who move wild mustangs from Mexico to Canada on public land, and “Tashi and the Monk,” which follows a new arrival in a Tibetan orphan community in the Himalayas, among others will be featured.
Julian said the films she chooses for the Port Townsend festival typically touch your heart and make you think. That type of content landed itself really naturally to the Mancos Doc Fest’s theme.
Attendees will be able to discuss this theme further at an unofficial meet-up at Fenceline Ciders after the festival. Bringing the community together was an important aspect of the event because many of the movies being shown may be accessed from streaming services at home.
“I love the idea of people seeing it in one place to talk about it with family and friends,” Julian said. “It’s that idea of community.”