The Akumal Arts Festival Documentary

By Kim Zanti

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To document the Festival’s impact on the community, Marti suggested that I write a funding proposal to Jonathan Webb, President of the Board of Directors of the Orange County-based organization, Community Engagement (communityengagement.org). This non-profit organization is committed to creative placemaking and offers direct support to artists, including those selected to paint in the first and subsequent festivals. This year, Community Engagement expanded their giving to include a contribution to Akumal’s library, Hekab Be Biblioteca, which provides extensive after-school programming for the pueblo’s 1,000 children. I, too, benefited from their largesse in the form of a $10,000 grant towards a $20,000 budget. My role is producing director. I’ve produced and directed short videos mainly in the context of grant applications, but this is my first documentary. I am incredibly fortunate to work with two visionary filmmakers, Melissa “Zippy” Downing of COLabs and Joe Schipani, Executive Director of Flint Public Art Project (flintpublicartproject.com). Native Topangan, world traveling poet, and former Canyon Gourmet staffer Joe Gutesha will join me as an assistant producer from New York, where he will be in the midst of new writing adventures. Longtime Angeleno and soon to be Topangan Joey Jones will bring his visually poetic, cinephile’s eye to the editing of the film. Several other Topangans have supported its development: David Dayan Fisher, Elizabeth George, Kyle Ruddick, and Nora Slattery, as well as Honorary Topangan Oleg Kagan. My creative team is brain storming all the questions, nuances, perspectives, and stories we can capture in ten days on the ground in Akumal. I wonder what has changed since the first festival and what hasn’t? Has the Festival had an impact on some of the more entrenched issues such as public access to the beach, the increasing presence of drug cartels in the region, or preparing people for working together to adapt to climate change? In what ways does reflecting the lives of residents in vibrant public murals affect mental health? There are many questions that we’re distilling to the most essential. In addition to submitting the film to short documentary film festivals, I plan to develop a series of talks for delivery in libraries, at conferences, and to audiences who are hungry for vibrant, colorful stories that connect us all as an endangered species. Yes, I feel that humanity has endangered itself by not attending to our home, our planet, and not respecting the fragility of our interdependent lives and communities. This film illustrates one way we can live up to our cooperative, interdependent potential and reshape the future. What will I discover in 2022? This remains to be seen. What I do know is that the process of discovery is in itself a great reward. Donations are welcome. I continue to fundraise to pay for the remaining post-production costs of $5,900. To contribute, do so through our fiscal sponsor, Everybody Dance Now! (everybodydancenow.org/donate#fiscalsponsorships). Contributions are tax deductible and all contributor names will appear in the end credits. Contributions of $2,500 or more receive a producer credit. —Kim Zanti

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