Welcome to our blog/ journal! We'll be posting every few days while we're on our trip and we'd love for you to follow along. Consider this a brief introduction to who we are, and what we're doing with our lives at the moment. Here are a few things you might want to know:
As you may know, we (Lauren and Isabel) are traveling to Peru in just a few short days to film the documentary we have been working on over the past several months. The film traces the journey of a mother and her daughter (ZZ and Julie) as they abandoned their life and family in rural Peru with just the clothes on their backs to seek economic opportunity in the U.S. What they found was more than opportunity, they found a family. By overstepping the bounds of “traditional family,” their story of migration, sacrifice, belonging, and unconditional love highlights how families can be formed, ripped apart and put back together in unconventional ways.
Why we are excited about it
Lauren has known ZZ and Julie since she was born, and they have been members of the Henschel family since their arrival in the U.S. over 20 years ago. Ten months ago, we decided to make a documentary about ZZ and her family. Since then, we have come a long way in developing our ideas and creating a plan to make this happen. For us, this is the best possible opportunity to do and collaborate on all of the things we both love: people, stories, food, travel, people, people, culture, adventure, art, people. What more could you want?
Last spring, we applied for and received funding from the Benenson Award in the Arts Grant and other prizes at Duke that will cover the travel costs of the documentary. We will continue to apply to other grants to fund the remainder of the project. Also, keep an eye out for our Kickstarter launch this winter!
We will be traveling down to South America with ZZ, Julie and Julie’s daughter Abigail to document their return to Peru and reunion with their Peruvian family. Our home base will be in Lima, where the majority of their family currently lives. From Lima we will travel north to Chiclayo, and from there to Niepos, the rural highland village where they were born and raised. We’ll be doing this part of the trip with ZZ, her father, and a whole bunch of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. A giant Peruvian family road trip through the mountains? Yep, we’ll be filming every wild second of it. We’re also super excited to be invited to take part in El Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased) celebrations with them while visiting the highlands. Dia de los Difuntos is a huge holiday, particularly in the countryside, when entire communities dress in costumes and face paint and host festivals to celebrate the lives of their ancestors.
For such different people, we couldn’t have more in common. We both (somehow) graduated from Duke University this past spring. Isabel majored in History and Markets and Management studies; Lauren majored in Visual Media Studies with a certificate in Documentary Studies and a minor in Cultural Anthropology.
We have a shared passion for creatively exploring personal narratives and sharing them through film. Despite coming from different academic backgrounds, we share a similar outlook on humanity and a desire to explore it. We both love connecting with diverse individuals, hearing their stories and finding creative ways to share them with others. As a team, we complete every phase of production together. From creative brainstorms to editing to grant-writing, we are constantly developing our ideas and work in tandem. Through our work as a production team, we have discovered that our two heads work better than one.
We are SO stoked to be taking our documentary work to South America and get started on this adventure.
While this trip is about making a documentary and telling an incredible story, it is also about sharing that story and this experience with as many people as possible. We’ll do our best to keep our posts quick and entertaining, and give you a glimpse into the work we’re doing. We really hope that you’ll enjoy keeping up with this adventure and will stay tuned for updates throughout the coming weeks.