BRATTLEBORO >> Part of every year for the past 10 years, local director/producer Angela Snow and cinematographer Josh Gibson have filmed the evolution of a dream in a remote part of Peru.
In the village of Yantalo, 600 miles north-northeast of Lima, Dr. Luis Vasquez envisioned the construction of the first environmentally sustainable hospital in Peru, one that is state-of-the-art, is run by international volunteers, and provides health care for all.
"This was a story that captured my attention," Snow said. "I couldn't turn away from it because at the heart of it is a person who cares so powerfully and who is so inspiring that all these people are brought together and volunteer."
Snow's documentary film-in-progress, "Mortality of Dreams," chronicles the decade-long journey of this hospital from improbable dream to solid reality. Snow has selected eight hours of key footage from the 400 hours filmed (all of which Snow, who speaks Spanish, has transcribed and translated) and has made a rough script. Now she needs to raise the funds to hire an editor and finish her documentary.
On Oct. 7 during Brattleboro's Gallery Walk, from 6 to 8 p.m., Snow will hold an in-person event called "Peru Meets Local Beer & Bratwurst" at Hermit Thrush Brewery, 29 High Street. At 6 p.m. attendees can enjoy free bratwurst and ice cream. At 7 p.m., Snow will show Peru video clips and conduct a Q & A. Details of the event are available at www.facebook.com/events/1611464002478295.
"This is a real 'build it, they will come' story about what one individual can accomplish in the final years of life," she said. "It's also a timely story about health care. Luis looks for a way to provide top care for all, regardless of one's ability to pay. Luis has created a universal model."
Snow launched a month-long online crowd-funding campaign on Sept. 13, available at www.seedandspark.com/fund/mortality-of-dreams. Local Vermont incentives to donate include Latchis movie tickets, Brattleboro Museum membership, Big Picture Farm goat milk caramels, Back Roads granola, Red Heart the Ticker CDs, Whetstone Ledges Farm maple syrup, books by stonewall builder Dan Snow, books about landscape gardening by Gordon Hayward, handweaving from Carol Schnabel, pottery from William Finkel, Graffiti Sandwich gift cards, Gallery in the Woods certificate, and other items.
Four "baskets" of incentives will be available on the online fundraiser, and two "baskets" of incentives will be available in person during the Hermit Thrush Brewery event on Oct. 7.
Volunteers from around the world, top physicians and doctors from universities and hospitals, visit Yantalo yearly to help Dr. Vasquez with his dream, Snow said, noting the collaboration was happening before the hospital was completed. In this on-going, reciprocal relationship, the medical staffs trade knowledge and services.
"Agreements and collaborations have been set up between Dr. Vasquez and over 20 institutes, universities, and hospitals around the world," she said in an email, "including Children's Hospital of Wisconsin; Yale Medical School; University of Lyon, France; Dartmouth Business School; Rotary International; and Peruvian American Medical Society (PAMS)."
Born in Brattleboro, Snow went to high school in St. Louis and graduated from Columbia College Chicago in Illinois. After film school, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a production assistant.
"I kept thinking, 'How can I make movies, and not go broke, and travel?'" she said.
Snow quit her job. By coincidence, Gibson, a classmate from college, sent Snow a preview of his new documentary. She seized the moment and suggested they form a production company. He agreed, and in 2006, To the Moon Productions was created. The plan was to make promotional videos for travel companies.
"I cold-called hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tour companies, saying we would make the videos for free," Snow said. "We did three. One of them was for Dr. Vasquez, who owned a tour company at that time. When he said yes, I was so excited. He said he could tell I was jumping up and down. Peru was number one on my list of places I wanted to go, and Machu Picchu was one of the reasons it interested me."
These days, Snow works freelance as producer/production manager/coordinator in reality television (Discovery, NatGeo, Food Network); shows include "American Tarzan," "Deadliest Catch: The Bait," "Barnwood Builders," the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and the Academy Awards. She is based in both New York City and Vermont.
The Peru film, which Snow calls her "passion project," has other universal themes. One is the change brought about in the village because of the hospital.
"This is the story of Latin heritage and returning to one's roots," she said. "Luis's mother was from Yantalo although he had never actually visited there until after her death in 2005. This film captures a town unchanged for a hundred years as it learns to make changes on its own. In 2007 there were no restaurants and no stores in the village, no paved roads, and now there are.
"The locals have been really involved," she continued. "For example, when we first met Wuilman (one of the village residents), he was shy and didn't speak English. Now he's fluent, and he runs the construction site. His wife Mary coordinates the people side of the project."
In her efforts to raise funds, Snow is reaching out not only to the hundreds of people who have been involved in Yantalo, but also to anyone who thinks this story is important enough to get out into the world.
"I hope people are interested in this story," she said. "In film school, I wrote make-believe narratives, but now I make documentaries and tell real-life stories that seem make-believe."
More information is available at www.tothemoonproductions.com.
Contact Nancy A. Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org.