I am extremely honored and humbled by your collective contributions to this campaign. Thanks to your generosity I will be able to lock picture on my film! But the work will continue. My focus is now to make the film look and sound as good as possible, and to this end I’ve added a few stretch goals below. But for now, thank you thank you thank you!!!
In February of 2011, just days after the Libyan Revolution began, I drove across the border from Egypt and set up camp in Benghazi. There I met Tarek and Hamid, two Libyan Canadian expatriates who, having never so much as touched a gun in their lives, abandoned their relatively comfortable lives in Canada to join the violent fight to liberate their motherland from Gaddafi's tyranny.
I followed them from their temporary homes to the soccer fields, to hookah spots, and finally to the frontline battlefields. I watched them grow from boys into hardened soldiers. I witnessed firsthand how armed conflicts irrevocably transform generations.
For Tarek and Hamid, transformations occurred not on the battlefield, but in the downtime between their headlong rushes into danger. That is why, when everyone else turned off their cameras, I turned mine on.
On the surface, my film chronicles a specific moment of the Arab Spring: Libya’s eight-month revolution for independence. I was there from the very start and stuck through until the rebels’ gunfire celebrations in the streets of Tripoli. But I did not stick around to see Gaddafi brought to justice. I stuck around for Tarek and Hamid—to understand what drove them and how war changed them.
To echo Tarek's words from the trailer, if this whole thing passed without me participating in it, I would regret it for my entire life. From the moment I crossed into Libya I witnessed a story that I had to tell, the story of the transformation of a generation of young men and women. When we watch revolutions unfold around the world we see cause (ruthless dictator) and effect (overturned regimes). We almost never see who the revolutionaries are, what motivates them, how they live and how they die. To me, that story is as profound and as important as the bigger socio-political one.
I’m almost there—after 12 months of filming, 7 months of fundraising, 5 months in the edit room, and multiple trips to Libya and beyond to follow up on the boys' lives after the revolution, I just need your help to complete the film with an original score by composer Mark degli Antoni (Into the Abyss, God Loves Uganda) and produce a festival-ready cut.
I have given the last two years of my life to this film, and it too has changed me. As with Tarek and Hamid, my transformation occurred off the battlefield, in the spaces between—between the camera coming to life and batteries dying. Between Libya and my family in North Dakota, moving to New York and all of the temporary homes I’ve inhabited. Between sessions in the edit room with my wonderful editor as I review 12 months of footage from a country half a world away and forever changed.
My film is a coming of age story, a narrative of loss of innocence, an odyssey from stability to upheaval, a 21st century parable. This is the universal tale I’m excited to tell, and I am appealing to you to please help me finish it.
Rachel Beth Anderson
$25,000 STRETCH GOAL: DIGITAL CINEMA PACKAGE
Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is the best screening format available and is increasingly becoming required by film festivals (it’s also a requirement for Oscar eligibility). If you help me reach this stretch goal, I’ll be able to represent Libya’s stunning and war-torn landscapes as visceral and heart-rending on the big screen as they truly are in life.
$30,000 STRETCH GOAL: SOUND DESIGN AND MIX
Anything above the $25,000 stretch goal will contribute towards final finishing costs. My dream is to be able to mix and design the sound in a professional facility to bring to life the aural landscape of this war. The sounds of war were ever-present in Misrata: gunfire, mortar shells flying overhead, and distant explosions that caused the ground to shake with their bass rumble. A professional sound design and mix will help me replicate this experience in the theater and make dialogue (often recorded down and dirty) crisp and audible. Reaching the $30,000 level will help make that a possibility.
$40,000 STRETCH GOAL: COLOR CORRECT
Funding at this level will contribute towards the cost of a color correct in a professional facility. The reality of shooting on an active battlefield is that everything is moving so quickly that it is not possible to have complete control of the visuals; sometimes just focusing on staying alive while capturing the subjects on camera is tough enough. Working with a colorist will help even out exposure, saturate or desaturate colors, and maximize the inherent beauty of the material. I’ve also sourced a good deal of footage from citizen journalists (such as Hamid) who brought cameras onto the battlefield. I will work with a colorist to give the different sources of footage a consistent look that will enhance the storytelling.
FIRST TO FALL is an immersive journey through the revolution in Libya following two friends who leave their lives as students in Canada to return to their home country of Libya during the uprising. When the young men pick up guns for the first time, Hamid is 26 and Tarek only 21. Full of revolutionary fervor, the two friends join the rebel army on the front lines to fight Gaddafi and reach their families held under siege by his army. Hamid and Tarek experience the reality of warfare and find their lives forever altered. The Libyan revolution provides the backdrop for this intimate story about the larger lessons of war and the loss of innocence.
Hamid and Tarek’s journey begins in March of 2011 in Benghazi, capital city of the liberated territories. Both want to fight on the front line but are untrained and unarmed. They join the young revolutionary community in Benghazi, befriending social activists, musicians, doctors, and many others. But they are dissatisfied to be away from the fight, so they travel west, towards the frontlines and besieged rebel cities, to participate in history. Hamid's camera is his ticket to the frontline, and every move Tarek makes brings him one step closer to his family in the Gaddafi controlled city of Zawiya. Neither young man would forgive himself to sit back and miss out on Libya's struggle for independence, so they rise each day and travel to the battlefield to face gunfire, mortars, and the death of beloved comrades.
I'll stop there; I don't want to spoil what happens in the end.
In addition to copies of the completed film, at various levels I’m offering “revolution swag”. Libya has had a complicated several years since the revolution, to be sure, but in the purest sense, the colors red, green, and black represent a desire for self-induced transformation and the rejection of tyranny. So it is with pride and immense gratitude that I offer some artifacts of the revolution given to me by the citizen patriots who stood up to Gaddafi. These items are unique in their encapsulation of a very specific, very idealistic moment in history.
At higher levels I’m also offering high quality prints of my own photography; photos taken during my personal odyssey in Libya.
Funding To Date
I am extraordinarily grateful to the organizations that have supported this film in its nascence. They include Gucci Tribeca, The Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, One Day on Earth, Roast Beef Films, and Market Road Films.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge moving forward (provided this Kickstarter campaign succeeds) will be getting the film out into the world. You can rest assured that I’m going to do everything in my power to get this story in front of audiences.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)