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A film about the first woman to cross Alaska alone, and the inspiring family connections and revelations that followed.
A film about the first woman to cross Alaska alone, and the inspiring family connections and revelations that followed.
200 backers pledged $31,250 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$31,250

200

(CHECK OUT THE NEW PLEDGE REWARDS, BELOW!)

They Call Me Fruitcake
is an inspiring true story about unparalleled self-discovery 120 years in the making, spanning the last frontier, transcending generations, and revealing an epic twist of fate and the legacy it left behind.

ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY

Humorous and compelling in its telling, They Call Me Fruitcake is the true story of Reinette Senum whose search for answers about the meaning behind her wandering life leads her to the Alaskan wilderness in 1994. Traveling over 1,500 miles and hauling a sled weighing 160 pounds with rescued sled dog, Diamond, this 27 year-old self-made adventurer battles sub-freezing temperatures, exhaustion and the vast loneliness of the Alaskan wild. Ultimately, Reinette navigates her way down the frozen Yukon River becoming the first woman to cross Alaska alone, filming the entire journey for the National Geographic Explorer Journal.

Reinette Senum's 1994 solo Alaskan crossing
Reinette Senum's 1994 solo Alaskan crossing

Adopted as an infant, Reinette knew nothing of her biological roots and set out on an extreme cold-weather journey to find out what she was made of. 

WHY IT’S TITLED, “THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE”

Two hundred miles into the journey Reinette rescued a sled dog named Diamond who would accompany and assist her the next 400 miles. However, less than half way across Alaska, the only road Reinette knew, the frozen Yukon River, began prematurely melting below her feet.

Reinette would have to come to grips with either giving up the ultimate journey of her life or finding a different way to continue.

Traveling with Diamond, pulling their sled together, Reinette became known, amusingly enough, as Wonder Woman by the local native Athabascans because of the distance she could ski in a day. However, when she announced to the Steven Village elders that she had decided to continue her journey in a her own hand-built Athabascan style canoe – they swiftly changed her name to Fruitcake -- hence the title of this film and a turning point in Reinette’s life.

In spite of the chagrin of the elders, Reinette borrowed the necessary tools from the villagers enabling her to cut down three trees, and hand-plane eighteen foot long planks of wood, assembling the canoe in three and a half weeks.

The building of the 18 ft long canoe, Athabascan-style
The building of the 18 ft long canoe, Athabascan-style

Once the Yukon River broke up and was free of nearly all its ice Reinette would resume her journey paddling 900 miles and completing her 1,500 mile trek in a total of four months, six days.

Following the completion of the Alaskan crossing, a hidden legacy began to reveal itself.

THIS IS WHERE THE TWIST COMES IN

Reinette initially pegged her solo winter crossing of Alaska as the proverbial heroine's journey. However, it wasn't until two years after completing her formative journey that she finally found her biological family. She thought she was ending a twenty year-long odyssey, but it was just the beginning. 

She would then come to understand her Alaskan crossing was more than she had ever imagined - it had crossed inter-generational and multi-dimensional boundaries as well.

Her biological great grandfather, Frederick Funston, had embarked upon an Alaskan trek on her birthday, April 10th, and snowshoed down the frozen Yukon River. Along the way he shot and killed a sled dog to eat because he was starving and built an 18 ft. long canoe to complete his 1,500 mile Alaskan crossing -- exactly one hundred years before in 1894 AND at the exact same age. Funston, like Reinette, was 27 and turned 28 along the way.

This was too coincidental to be ignored.

The discovery stopped Reinette in her tracks and permanently altered her perception of reality, ultimately forcing her to ask herself, “Who the heck was Frederick Funston?”

THE MOST FAMOUS MILITARY FIGURE YOU NEVER HEARD OF

Five foot four and barely 120 pounds General Frederick Funston was the highest ranked military official in the country at the time of his death in 1917.

Famous for taking control of San Francisco and declaring an unofficial martial law following the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and inferno, Funston would order the controversial dynamiting of affluent homes so as to create a firebreak. Later, these homeowners would attempt to sue the US Army and Funston only to lose. Out of the event would come a court ruling known as Eminent Domain. 

In 1917 General Funston had John J. Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur under his command while overseeing Pershing as he had him pursue Pancho Villa, the famous Mexican Revolution general. It was during this time when Funston would drop dead of a massive heart attack sending shock waves across the nation: Funston had been expected to be the future commander of the American Expeditionary Force so as to lead the US into the Great War, later known as WWI. 

Frederick Funston's 1894 Alaskan crossing and his untimely death
Frederick Funston's 1894 Alaskan crossing and his untimely death

Funston would die an untimely death; two months later Funston's subordinate, Pershing, would ultimately lead the nation into its first World War and an ever enlarging military expansion. 

General Frederick Funston would soon disappear into the shadows of the newly formed heroes of WWI. Yet the ripple of many of his oppressive acts and decisions at the turn of the century continue into present day.

THE REST OF THE STORY

While Reinette could clearly see resounding similarities to her and Funston's love for adventure, she knew for certain there was one thing she had that her great grandfather never did: one hundred years of perspective.

With a century since the passing of her great grandfather, Reinette could clearly see the devastating results of General Frederick Funston’s wartime tactics. His life would become a mirror for Reinette  reflecting her actions against the legacy of an imperial-trailblazer, many times leading Reinette to consciously diverge in a polar-opposite direction (yes, the pun is intended). Now fully aware of her place in the story, Reinette would set her sites to correct a course from long ago. 

Reincarnation. Cellular memory. Family karma, or pure coincidence -- this story delves into the personal exploration of lineage & legacy and what one can decode and learn from a family's marred history.

WHY SHOULD YOU FUND THIS FILM?

The hope is that that this DVD can be used by schools, organizations, and the public at-large to inspire and assist in finding not only our place in society, but how we can learn from our past so as to move forward into a more vibrant future.

For the last twenty years, Reinette has been collecting historical photos, articles, books, illustrations, archival news broadcasts & footage, slides, letters, historic political satire, paintings, diary excerpts, as well as humorous interviews of friends and family who know Reinette as Fruitcake. Much of this has been compiled into a one-woman show performed for the last two decades, portions of which will be included in this documentary.

(45 second Crossing Alaska montage, 1994) 

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In order for Reinette to complete this documentary the following will need to be covered: additional filming/interviews (small crew required), film animation and titles, travel expenses, sound design, editing & mixing, color correction, internet and newspaper archival fees, licensing, marketing, graphics, festival fees and merchandise for contributors to this project. 

Being a filmmaker the last 20 years, Reinette will be editing and directing this piece, herself. 

Kickstarter and Amazon have a processing fee, when combined, of around 10%.

YOUR FIRST TIME TO KICKSTARTER? THIS IS HOW IT WORKS

Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors, powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. In other words, if we don’t raise our goal of $30,000, we lose everything. Once we have reached our goal we will contact you to get your address and then we will start working on getting those awesome incentives to you!

HOW TO PLEDGE

Just click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. You must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. 

Just click on the Amazon Payment Button and you will see that you can pay with a credit card from any country! But you must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. If you have any problems just contact us.

And know, no gift is too small!

If you can't pledge then please, please share this on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or sing it from the mountain tops! And if you CAN pledge, please share on social media that you did!

Thank you for taking the time out to support this endeavor!

Viva la Fruitcake!

RL Crabb's exclusive illustration for t-shirts and coffee mug!
RL Crabb's exclusive illustration for t-shirts and coffee mug!
The note dropped to Reinette by Alaskan State Trooper pilot warning Reinette she was being followed by wolves while skiing down the frozen Yukon River is now a limited replication.
The note dropped to Reinette by Alaskan State Trooper pilot warning Reinette she was being followed by wolves while skiing down the frozen Yukon River is now a limited replication.
Jane Funston's poem to her daughter, Reinette, who she would never know.
Jane Funston's poem to her daughter, Reinette, who she would never know.
This Jane Funston original is now a pledge reward for $75!
This Jane Funston original is now a pledge reward for $75!

Risks and challenges

Barring flood, famine, or fire, we are confident that this film, with Reinette and her community's determination, will be completed, submitted into film festivals, and dropped safely into the expectant viewers' hands! Reinette has experience directing, editing, and producing and her Alaska story has been a one-woman show for over 20 years (more on that here: http://tinyurl.com/AlaskaRevisited), so she knows how to tell the story! Also, over the course of the last 20 years of producing and performing this as a one woman show, Reinette has built up a big base of supporters who have been asking for this story in book and film-format. This is for them.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Every dollar counts! We thank you profusely for doing your part in bringing this epic story of adventure and legacy to the public!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Yes, another heartfelt thank you, and you will also receive exclusive project e-updates to keep you in the know!!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Feel that warmth in your chest? That’s an Alaskan thank you coming your way, as well as exclusive project e-updates and a signed THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE postcard!

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    All the above, plus a cool THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE (RL Crabb illustration) coffee mug and sticker!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    An exquisitely detailed letterpress of the poem, The Accidental Life, written by Reinette's birthmother Jane Funston in 1965. Produced by Full Circle Press. (PLEASE NOTE, THIS REWARD IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE $25 PLEDGE REWARD LISTED BELOW)

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, plus a signed THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE postcard along with the exclusive project e-updates!

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    This is a perfect and unique gift for that person who has everything: an organic mini-fruitcake (baked by Three Forks Bakery) and postcard before Christmas letting your recipient know they will be receiving exclusive project e-updates on the making of the documentary THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE and a signed DVD upon its November 2015 release! NEVADA COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY!!!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Yes, you get our exclusive project e-updates, and your very own THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE (RL Crabb illustration) special edition t-shirt, male or female cut, and a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release. We know, crazy, right?!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    This is one of a kind pledge reward with a one of a kind story behind it: the note dropped to Reinette by an Alaskan State Trooper pilot warning her that she was being followed by a wolf pack while skiing down the frozen Yukon River. Yes, this is a limited edition letterpress replication, by Full Circle Press, that you don't want to miss out on!! Along with the note comes the exclusive project e-updates!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Yes, that’s right, along with the exclusive project e-updates, you get the fabulously stylish THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE special addition t-shirt (RL Crabb illustration), male or female cut, and a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, and that awesome THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE (RL Crabb illustration) coffee mug to keep you warm during the winter!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    During the Fruitcake Bash & Tasting one painting out of four was selected by the event attendees as the official pledge reward. Receive this beautiful limited addition print on archival paper of an original Jane Funston (Reinette's birthmother) painting! Exclusive e-updates included!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    With this pledge you officially become part of the documentary. Not only do you have the exclusive project e-updates coming to you, THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE special addition t-shirt (RL Crabb illustration), and a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, but you will also be given a BIG THANK YOU in the END CREDITS of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE documentary!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The exclusive project e-updates will be on their way as well as your PERSONAL INVITATION to a Nevada City ADVANCE SCREENING of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE showcasing some of our best local, organic hors d'oeuvres. This smashing event will give you a chance to give us your feedback before the final cut. And we couldn't let you leave without knowing you will be getting your signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    You will receive the exclusive project e-updates, a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, PLUS a limited edition THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE photo book! AND you will also be given a BIG THANK YOU in the END CREDITS of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE documentary!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    We’ll send you everything from the $350 level; a BIG THANK YOU in the END CREDITS, e-updates, a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, a limited edition THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE photo book with the DVD AND 2 VIP TICKETS to the Nevada City World Premiere of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE! This includes the smashing pre-party full of local, organic hors d'oeuvres with film crew members and lots of special peeps. Includes premiere seating at the event!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    We’ll send you everything from the $350 level; a BIG THANK YOU in the END CREDITS, e-updates, signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, a limited edition THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE photo book with the release of the DVD! AND since you may not be available to enjoy our November 2015 Nevada City World Premiere, perhaps you would dig a 1//2 HOURS SKYPE SESSION with Reinette Senum for you, your organization, school, or business of choice!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Now things are really heating up like an Alaskan thaw! With this awesome pledge you will receive the exclusive project e-updates, a signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, the limited edition THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE photo book with the release of the DVD, and 2 VIP tickets to the Nevada City Premier SO you can see YOUR NAME up on the screen in the END CREDITS as an OFFICIAL ASSOCIATE PRODUCER! It's only fair we give you recognition for your belief in the project!

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    We’ll send you everything from the $1,000 level; exclusive project e-updates, signed DVD of THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE upon its November 2015 release, the limited edition THEY CALL ME FRUITCAKE photo book with the release of the DVD, and 2 VIP tickets to the Nevada City Premier SO you can see your name up on the screen in the END CREDITS as (drum roll, please) an OFFICIAL PRODUCER!! Credit needs to go where credit is due! And along with this you will get a 1/2 hour SKYPE SESSION with Reinette Senum for you, your organization, school or business of choice!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    You get everything the $2,500 pledge, however, rather than a Producer credit, you will be given an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit AND rather than Skype session, if you live within a 200 mile radius, you will get the real thing; Reinette Senum's two hour one-woman show, Alaska Revisited. Invite up to 100 friends and family and get ready to cross Alaska! This gift can be donated in the name of a person, school, church, organization, you name it!

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Funding period

- (31 days)