October 2, 2017, at the Beartooth Theatrepub, documentary filmmaker Mary Katzke brings us a new treasure, Fourteen.
In her new film, Katzke has brought to life a beautiful, visual moving portrait of growing up in Alaska. A film 12 years in the making, Fourteen, weaves together the lives of six Alaskan children. Poignantly capturing their views of love, life, and politics as they change and grow, she allows the audience to bear witness to the unfolding developments of these bright minds. “It is a joy to watch,” Katzke says.
Captured in the spirit of such films as “7 Up”, which chronicles the lives of its subjects at seven-year intervals, Fourteen hopes to follow this group throughout their lifetime. It shares a humorous, joy-filled look at the personalities of these young individuals from the time they were just two years old until the age of 14.
Although they were all born in Alaska, two of our own locals, Isabella Anderson and Savanna Simkins, who are now Seniors at Chugiak High School, are among the stars of this film. While Isabella is spending this year as an exchange student in Spain, Savanna is pursuing her dream of becoming a Jazz singer. Of her time on the film, which has been 12 years in development, she says it was, “foamtastic,” referring to some fun they had with play-time, and as a “priceless memoir” in which she hopes to expand.
“What’s fascinating about this chronicle is that these children’s’ personalities were evident at 2 years old, and it plays out through the film,” Katzke says. She explains further that the funding of such work is difficult, often relying on volunteers to bring collaborative efforts together to finalize each work of art. As a way of giving back to her volunteers, she shares both her skill and passion for improving the lives of others through mentorships.
During a time when funding for Fourteen was scarce, Katzke serendipitously met an editor looking for volunteer opportunities who was able to bring the film to its present stage of completion.
Yooyoung Chun volunteered on the project in 2015 when she lived in Anchorage. A 2014 graduate of the University of California, Irvine, with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies, she now lives back in her hometown of Seoul, South Korea. But she will be flying in especially for the premiere on October 2nd.
“For me, it was fascinating to see how each personality develops differently every two years,” she said by email. “Also, each kid has his or her personal and family history, and as they grow up, they’ve come to terms with their circumstances, and their expression becomes more mature—which was very interesting to me because this is probably what I and many other people have gone through.”
Fourteen is a break from Katzke’s more powerful film works which range in topic from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s disease.
Following the screening of Fourteen, Katzke will show a second film, Partners in Healing. Partners in Healing was written to be soothing to watch as well as educate the audience on the integrated healing process from a variety of alternative perspectives.
A cancer survivor herself, sharing the healing journey is an important mission for Katzke to document. With almost 40 films under her belt, it is the journey toward healing and wellness in which she is most interested saying,
“The stories that appeal to me the most are about the human condition – where ordinary people are struggling to get through something – whether it’s cancer or illiteracy or homelessness.”
Regardless of what they are struggling with, Katzke focuses on each achievement, no matter how minor. It has been 25 years since her initial diagnosis, and providing this information to the public in a format which is compelling and entertaining is how she hopes to spread information and inspiration.
Tickets to this event are $7.00, but additional tax-deductible donations will help provide the free tickets she is offering to anyone struggling with medical difficulties of any kind. Tickets: //beartooththeatre.net/
Affinity films is an Anchorage-based, nonprofit, educational media organization founded in1982. The mission of Affinityfilms is to produce “media with meaning”. Katzke has an MFA in Writing and Directing Film and Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and studied Radio, Television, and Film as an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin.