10/21/2005: "Open Arms: film in process"
Several years ago a local friend told me about a moose hunting trip she made with two other women. Women hunting together. Women, mothers, you wouldnít expect out in the wilderness trying to bring home food for their families tables The images struck me, played with my discomfort with firearms, stereotypes of men on opening day, and my time as a tofu and sprout eating vegetarian.
This spring I decided it was time to turn the idea into a documentary film, with the working title, Open Arms. I shared my ideas and more ideas bounced back at me. Now we have some footage, a pile of books, notes and research and a need to hone the ideas into something sharper and clearer.
It isnít just a film about women with guns or women hunting per se I am after. It is like many of the other works Iíve spent years on, about connection. How do we connect to what we eat? How does that connection to what we put into our mouths link to the way we live in a place, relate to our environment and to what is wild? The project is about food, sustenance, the effort to eat sustainably and connect to our families and others in the process. It is about trying to eat healthy safe food too.
Iím thinking now about anthropologist and nature writer Richard Nelson described to me yesterday. He said even if people say going out hunting is more about being in the outdoors than getting meat (especially when they have gone out and come back empty handed) the reality is otherwise. The meat is essential. The process of getting your own food has some kind of deep meaning, a pull that we canít get from packaged and labeled foods from the supermarket shelves.
The idea of hunting is repulsive to some. It is almost a divisive topic. I have this hope of taking viewers on some kind of intriguing eye opening journey, both the ones who grew up with hunting families and those who grew up like I did, driving to the supermarket, grilling steaks on the summer barbeque and perhaps becoming a vegetarian. Statistics show less people are spending less and less time outdoors explains Alaska Field Representative to the National Rifle Association, Eddie Grasser. I interviewed him when he came to town last month for the Friends of NRA Banquet. As Eddie talked about the meaning of where he lived and being outdoors, he sounded less like what I might stereotype a representative of the NRA to be like and very much like the kayaking, bike friendly and backpacking environmentalists I know from Alaska to Los Angeles. He says the number of hunting licenses applied for has decreased, but the percentage of women applying for them has gone up. Why is this happening? Meat, food, women, outdoors, guns, connection, wellness. The themes will slowly sort themselves out and a film, hopefully, will come out of it too. Meanwhile I wonder if I should make tofu, or thaw and cook venison or salmon we got for dinner.