In an environment of increasingly frequent catastrophic natural disasters around the world, OUR TREE ~ forged from fire offers communities an insight into how lives evolve throughout the aftermath of such an event, and perhaps forecasts pathways through such tragedies that may prove helpful and hopeful to others, now, and in times to come.
OUR TREE ~ forged from fire is a film we intend to take direct to audiences via mediated local, regional and rural screening events; safe and respectful spaces in which the film can be screened and open floor discussions take place. Audiences are expected to include the bereaved, their friends and families, sponsors who have donated to the project, international contributors, artists and artisans, locals and blacksmiths from around the world.
The few screenings to date of the OUR TREE short have seen audiences moved to express their own responses to Black Saturday, often for the first time. From the stories of personal loss shared at the 2014 Human Rights Arts & Film Festival screening launch, the intimate screenings at the Hurstbridge Uniting Church, to the emotional responses and encouragement offered by non-fire affected audiences at both the 2014 Community Development Conference in Glasgow and the Internet Rights are Human Rights Workshops in Barcelona, time and again audiences responded with cheers, applauds and tears.
This story of loss and recovery seems to remind people of an innate urge to be with each other, to be held safely within the spaces our films are screened, intimate spaces in which people have felt safe to grieve and speak openly about their feelings irrespective of who they are or where they came from. I have found people want to share their concerns openly, and in doing so, whether they are fire affected or not, I believe these genuine moments of intimate sharing binds communities together at a time when so many are fractured. Audiences are to the nurtured and respected, not led.
In producing OUR TREE ~ forged from fire we have found the project already bringing people together, particularly those that gave generously, by way of financial donations and voluntary labour to the creation of the Blacksmiths Tree. They have come to meet many people from fire affected communities. This sense of connection, healing through openness, frank discussion and the support these opportunities afford, is significant in the healing process and its social impact is invaluable.
OUR TREE ~ forged from fire is a social document, enabling community members to reflect on journeys made since Black Saturday, and share them with each other. That is why mediated screenings are so important.
We intend, for reporting and marketing purposes, to measure the impact of our film by tracking invited and curated screenings, audience numbers, DVD sales, audience feedback by way of hand-written, unsolicited testimonials that may be left in a “reflections book” and all online feedback via email, the project website and social media. However it is the qualitative impact that we are really interested in. Such impact may be measured in responses to the film through direct contact with audiences, recorded and documented testimonials shared online and through various community publications.
I feel so honoured to have watched this project grow and succeed. My leaf is a little treasure and I was left speechless seeing the tree in person yesterday. It talked to me like it was a living breathing thing. My three heartfelt photos that sum up my presence at the launch are attached. Thank you!