This is the rambling saga of how I finished my short documentary POUSTINIA on artist Gendron Jensen - "the bone man" - someone I've known since I was a kid growing up in Northern Minnesota - Gendron draws bones - exquisitely detailed realistic drawings. His medium is graphite on paper and, more recently, stone lithography. Its initial screening was June 2013 (at a retrospective exhibit in our home town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota). I first started shooting video with Gendron back in 1977 when I was a senior in high school - on b/w reel to reel Sony videotape. He had just finished illustrating Robert Bly's book "This Body is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood" with images of freshwater snails. But all of that footage was lost.
Fast forward 20-some years - I started on the project in earnest right before attending the WGBH workshop in 2003... but it was not my project then... it was first a project initiated by two upstate NY filmmakers who wanted to do a feature length doc on Gendron. When I heard about it I volunteered to work on the project and started organizing shoots whenever Gendron would come back to Minnesota (he had moved to New Mexico in 1987) The filmmakers never raised any money and I was paying for my shoots myself - so nothing happened. And after years of the tapes sitting on a shelf I got the chance in 2012 to shoot with Gendron in New Mexico on high def and so I resolved to go ahead and finish a short. I had already found a great editor - had musicians lined up who wanted to contribute - and everything just came together. Anyway - here is much of the full story -
Last June I worked out a deal just as I was finishing the edit for screening fee from an art center that was mounting a retrospective show of Gendron's work in our home town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The day I left to attend the screening I dropped an entry form and DVD in the mail to the Woodstock Film Festival. We were accepted and in October 2013 won the jury prize for Best Short Documentary - with none other than Oscar winning director Leon Gast ("When We Were Kings"), Emmy winning director Lisa Gossels ("The Children of Chabannes" and"My So-Called Enemy") and Paul Rachman ("American Hardcore, co-founder Slamdance Film Festival) on the jury! Since then POUSTINIA has screened at a half dozen festivals including the Taos Shortz Film Fest and Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival - and in April we won the audience award for Best Short Documentary at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival - a monster of a fest running 16 days with over 250 films... now mulling where to take the film next. Broadcast, cablecast, theatrical, internet or grassroots.