I’m writing this while looking out of the blinds of my window at an unusually blue sky above Missoula. It’s one of those confusing mid-winter days where you can’t quite figure out what season it is. It smells like spring and looks like winter, and on top of that, I’m editing footage from late summer and listening to birds chirping on Waterworks Hill. This project has been a bit like a day like today; we don’t always know where we are in the course of things.
For those who have followed or supported us it’s probably been equally confusing, but thats also the beautiful thing about participant-driven filmmaking: there is nothing streamline or predictable about it. Participants and mentors alike have hit roadblocks or had breakthroughs in meaning at different times, in some cases a month later than we’d imagined ourselves shooting or editing any new content— and yet here we are.
Refugee director, Bikyeombe Abwe, said at a Q&A last fall that every time you tell a difficult story it gets a little easier. And likewise, from my perspective as a filmmaker mentor, telling a story once might only teach you what you needed to learn to understand the real story you want to communicate. Creating these stories is like building something in layers without knowing how many layers it’s going to take.
But we are getting to that point in the project where we can start to put concrete dates on things, announce screenings and share clips and stills from production. In the weeks to come we’ll be waking back up on social media to start to share with the community, both locally and at large, what’s been going on and what to look forward to.
To get us started, here is a collection of stills from the films of refugee directors Justine Binwa and Joel Kambale along with their kids (originally from the DRC). They are in their second year as Missoulians, and their footage now reflects every season.
Keep an eye out for festival announcements and trailer releases to see of more from Joel, Justine, and the rest of the New Neighbors Project in the coming weeks!
Claire Haughey (DP, Director/Producer, Mentor, Friend, Neighbor, and Sometimes-Babysitter)