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The Maze – William Kurelek’s painting of the inside of his skull - is the centerpiece of two films on the celebrated Canadian artist.

WE REACHED OUR GOAL!

We are so honored and humbled by everyone's support. We could not have predicted how generously everyone would respond. The mission of this project from the very beginning - over 40 years ago - has been simple: documenting a life story that is powerful and important. William Kurelek's story continues to inspire us, as we find new paintings, interview his colleagues and friends, and connect with individuals dramatically affected by "The Maze" and other Kurelek works. Your support is going to allow us to continue on our mission and complete both of our films on Kurelek, doing our best to honor his genius.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

OUR NEW GOAL

In the next 3 days, we'd like to reach a new goal of $55K. If you haven't yet, you have a limited time to reserve your copy of the film, the director's edition, or limited Kurelek print. We appreciate the support!

About us and our project

Hi, we're filmmakers Nick Young and Zack Young, and we're trying to raise money to finish and release William Kurelek's The Maze, a film our father started over 40 years ago. Our necessary steps for completing the project are detailed below (see Need for Funding), but one of them is producing the bonus film Out of the Maze, which will be included on the DVD and Blu-ray.

If you are not sure how Kickstarter works, please see the FAQ page.

"The Maze is a painting of the inside of my skull, which I painted when I was in England as a patient in Maudsley and Netherne psychiatric hospitals. It is a story of my life, well in the sense that people tell stories by the fireplace to entertain their guests, trying to make them accept you. In this case I wanted to be accepted, as an interesting specimen." - William Kurelek, 1969.

Check out a trailer for the main film, William Kurelek's The Maze:

William Kurelek has become one of Canada's most celebrated artists. His work is on permanent display in major galleries and museums around the world. When he was hospitalized in London, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, but he believed he was suffering a spiritual crisis. 

Our father, award-winning filmmaker Robert M. Young (Nothing But a ManAlambrista!Dominick and Eugene), began this film because he believed that Kurelek's revelations in both his art and in his person were of great importance. Our goal is to complete the final stages of this film, which includes finishing a new bonus film.

Rewards

This project is an opportunity to provide you with not only the film itself, but some rare and truly unique rewards, not the least of which are LIMITED EDITION PRINTS direct to your door by the holidays.

Vintage film canister containing signed DVD/Blu-ray, signed 8x10 color photo from the making of the 1969 version, a replica of a letter written from William Kurelek to Robert M. Young, and a limited booklet containing rare, exclusive paintings + photos
Vintage film canister containing signed DVD/Blu-ray, signed 8x10 color photo from the making of the 1969 version, a replica of a letter written from William Kurelek to Robert M. Young, and a limited booklet containing rare, exclusive paintings + photos

 LIMITED EDITION ARCHIVAL PRINT

Limited edition archival print of "I am Proud of My Humility" by William Kurelek, depicting the original interview for the film in 1969. Available for the holidays
Limited edition archival print of "I am Proud of My Humility" by William Kurelek, depicting the original interview for the film in 1969. Available for the holidays

 4 LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTS FROM KURELEK'S ESTATE

Original lithographic print from William Kurelek's Arctic Series, donated by the estate and signed by William Kurelek's son, Stephen Kurelek - only 4 are available
Original lithographic print from William Kurelek's Arctic Series, donated by the estate and signed by William Kurelek's son, Stephen Kurelek - only 4 are available

OFFICIAL POSTER

Get the film's official poster signed by the filmmakers
Get the film's official poster signed by the filmmakers

The Backstory

In 1969, our dad was approached by Professor James Maas of Cornell University to make a film about psychotic art, in order to depict the relationship between art and psychology. One of the paintings in Maas' collection was William Kurelek's 1953 work The Maze; Young and Maas together decided that the best film they could make would be about the man who painted this masterpiece.

From left, director David Grubin, director Robert M. Young, and artist William Kurelek
From left, director David Grubin, director Robert M. Young, and artist William Kurelek

Partnered with filmmaker David Grubin, our dad travelled to London to document the hospital where Kurelek had been a patient, and to interview his doctor, therapist, and nurse. Eventually, our dad and Grubin made it to Canada, where they interviewed the Kurelek family, his priest, and the artist himself, whose on-camera revelations "feel like a gift" (Erin O'Neal, exclaim.ca)

William Kurelek trusted the two filmmakers enough to be candid about his story, even about his attempted suicide and self-professed "spiritual crisis." He allowed them into his home and his world, and even painted the experience in his work I am Proud of My Humility (shown above in "Rewards" - archival print available).

The film went on to win several awards, but only as a half-hour educational piece for psychology classrooms. The footage for a longer, more complete version of the film was lost for over 40 years.

Clockwise from top-left: William Kurelek in his studio, Jean Kurelek, William with kids, William interviewed, close-up William's father Dmytro Kurelek, William's mother Mary Kurelek, mental hospital in London, and Dmytro Kurelek on the farm
Clockwise from top-left: William Kurelek in his studio, Jean Kurelek, William with kids, William interviewed, close-up William's father Dmytro Kurelek, William's mother Mary Kurelek, mental hospital in London, and Dmytro Kurelek on the farm

Re-imagining William Kurelek's The Maze

7 years ago, the lost footage was discovered in an unmarked canister hidden away in a film vault. Together with our dad, we restored the footage and edited it back into the original film. He also asked that we provide the film with a score, since we are also musicians. We researched and studied Ukrainian folk music that Kurelek was known to listen to while painting. This inspired us to produce a score using acoustic guitars and electronic instruments, as well as the song "Someone with Me" which runs over the end credits.

SOMEONE WITH ME, original song from Nick Young & Zack Young, included on soundtrack

We decided to try and finish the film in time to accompany a traveling exhibition of Kurelek's work: William Kurelek: The Messenger, which stopped at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. But the 16mm images had deteriorated and we realized that if we were going to screen this film before fans of the renowned artist, we had to rephotograph his paintings in order to do them justice. This meant traveling across Canada, and in the process we met and learned from so many fascinating figures from Kurelek's life (more on this later - see Out of the Maze).

Producer Nick Young re-photographing the painting "This is the Nemesis"
Producer Nick Young re-photographing the painting "This is the Nemesis"

But the journey of making this film didn't stop there. As we began to edit the now high-definition images of his work into the film, we became immersed in Kurelek's world. In fact we became so engaged by the energy of his characters, that we knew we had to honor their inner life through animation.

The result was a new, 65-minute version of the film, titled William Kurelek's The Maze, which we have been fortunate enough to screen in Canada alongside exhibitions of Kurelek's work and as part of several film festivals that explore and raise awareness about mental illness. We were so humbled this month to have our film presented by Their Excellencies the Governor General of Canada David Johnston and his wife Sharon Johnston as part of "The Happening," an event to confront and promote deeper understanding of issues surrounding mental illness. 

Screening of "William Kurelek's The Maze" presented by the Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Oct. 9th 2013, to raise discussion of issues surrounding mental health
Screening of "William Kurelek's The Maze" presented by the Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Oct. 9th 2013, to raise discussion of issues surrounding mental health

However, the film is not quite finished, and there are some necessary steps that we need to take in order to finish and release it properly:

Need for Funding

So far we've managed to finance the film ourselves, but we realize that to take the next steps, we're going to need some additional funding. These steps include:

  • finishing the animations for the film
  • translating the film into French, Ukrainian, Spanish, and other languages
  • mastering a proper surround sound mix and color correct
  • releasing the film in all necessary formats (more limited theater runs, DVD, Blu-Ray, and online)
  • finishing production of the complimentary bonus film Out of the Maze (see next section)

Out of the Maze

Through working on the film, we've gotten to know many of the fascinating individuals from Kurelek's life. We realized that they had so much to say, so we began making an additional film called Out of the Maze. We interviewed many of his family members, his art dealer Avrom Isaacs, and several art assistants and colleagues. But our discoveries only continue as we meet art therapists, professors, and psychologists who deepen our insights and who we would love to interview.

clockwise from top-left: Stephen Kurelek, Avrom Isaacs, Cathy Kurelek, Robert M. Young, Kenneth St. Onge, and Sylvia Chan
clockwise from top-left: Stephen Kurelek, Avrom Isaacs, Cathy Kurelek, Robert M. Young, Kenneth St. Onge, and Sylvia Chan

The title Out of the Maze comes from a painting Kurelek made as a gift to the Maudsley Hospital in London. He considered it to be a sequel to The Maze - an update of his story which he wanted to present to the hospital that housed him through the "Maze" period. At the center of the image is a depiction of Kurelek and his family, enjoying a picnic on the prairie. 

Poster for "Out of the Maze," bonus film for the DVD/Blu-ray
Poster for "Out of the Maze," bonus film for the DVD/Blu-ray

It is ostensibly a scene of serenity and happiness. However, two clues signal both a past and present of darkness. In the bottom left-hand corner is the bisected skull from The Maze, and in the top right, a storm is looming on the horizon. Just like the painting, our bonus film Out of the Maze will provide an updated picture of the artist. For us, it makes the main film even larger because it paints a picture that spans the time over 40 years since the original film was first released.

Press

The Globe and Mail, Kate Taylor

theartmarket

Indiewire, Bill Desowitz

Toronto Screen Shots, James McNally

Toronto Star, Peter Goddard

exclaim.ca, Erin O'Neill

Van Halen News Desk

Biographies

ROBERT M. YOUNG, (see imdb page) one of our foremost independent filmmakers, has an award-winning body of work that includes classic documentaries and acclaimed feature films. His features include Nothing But A Man, distinguished by being Malcom X's favorite film, as well asAlambrista!, Short Eyes, Rich Kids, One Trick Pony, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Extremities, Dominick and Eugene, Triumph of the Spirit,and Caught. His documentaries include Secrets of the Reef named by Time Magazine as "one of the best films of the year," as well as Fight for Life, In the World of Sharks, Man of the Serengeti, Bushmen of the Kalahari,and The Great Apes.

As a writer/director/cameraman and associate producer for the acclaimed NBC White Paperseries, he made Sit-In, Angola: Journey to a War, and The Inferno. This last film portrayed slum life in Palermo, Sicily so powerfully that NBC declined to air it. In 1993, Young's son Andrew and his daughter-in-law Susan Todd incorporated the NBC film into their film Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Familyfor which they received an Academy Award Nomination.Father and son together received the Best Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Mr. Young’s other numerous awards include: Cannes’ Camera d’Or, San Sebastian’s Golden Concha for Best Film, Cuba’s Golden Coral for Best Film, Venice’s Primo San Georgio and The City of Venice Prize, an Emmy, three Peabody Awards, two George Polk Memorial Awards for Journalism, and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Mr. Young has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

DAVID GRUBIN (see imdb page) is a director, writer, producer, and cinematographer who has produced over 100 films, ranging from history to art, from poetry to science, winning every award in the field of documentary television, including two Alfred I. Dupont awards, three George Foster Peabody prizes, five Writer's Guild prizes, and ten Emmys. 

His biographies for the PBS series American Experience - Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House DividedLBJTruman;TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt; and FDR - have set the standard for television biography. His five-part series for PBS - Healing And The Mind with Bill Moyers - has won many awards, and the companion book, for which he was executive editor, rose to number one on The New York Times Best Sellers list, remaining on the list for 32 weeks. His recent award-winning independent feature film Downtown Express has been screened at festivals in America and abroad. 

A member of the executive committee of the Society of American Historians, Grubin has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, has been a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, and is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Hamilton College. A former chairman of the board of directors of The Film Forum, he is a member of the Writers Guild and Directors Guild and has been teaching documentary film producing at Columbia University's Graduate Film Program. 

Currently, he is working on a film about languages in danger of extinction, Language Matters with Bob Holman.

Brothers NICK YOUNG and ZACK YOUNG produced, animated & scored William Kurelek's The Maze. Both are visual effects artists, filmmakers & musicians based in West Los Angeles, California. They comprise the film/visual-effects company MachinEyes. Their artistic background is heavily based in their musical roots, having performed in venues all over the world. They released their first full-length album in 2002 produced by Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson) on Dreamworks Records under the band A.i. Out of a desire to expand their artistic palette, they eventually ventured into film & visual effects which has been a natural progression for them under the mentorship of their father, Robert M. Young, an award-winning filmmaker.  

In the past couple of years, Nick & Zack have also focused their time on visual effects doing 3D animation work for companies such as Nike, Kenneth Cole, & Red Bull as well as collaborating on music videos & several independent feature films that have had theatrical releases. Their passion lies in telling stories in new and exciting ways through the use of some of todays latest animation technology.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The most prominent challenge we've faced through this process is a simple one: time. Not only was there a 40-year delay because of lost footage, but even once the lost footage was found, it took us several years before the film could be screened before an audience. And even then it was not complete, which is why we are here now.

However, in our case, all of the time that has been devoted to this project has been a blessing. Because of the 40-year delay, the film now belongs to a new generation, and holds a rare, primary-source account of one of our great North American artists. And because we haven't had a lump sum of funding or a deadline at any point so far, we have been able to take the time that the project needs, and slowly make the discoveries that would allow this film to honor William Kurelek as much as possible.

However, we are now at the point where we know exactly what we need to do to get this project finished, and we are excited to meet the demand of an army of Kurelek fans who have been waiting to hear his story. Now that we have defined the dollar amount that it will take to complete "William Kurelek's The Maze" and the bonus film "Out of the Maze," and now that we have set a date for when we aim to have it all finished and available to the public (July 2014, though we will aim for sooner!), we are on a focused, purposeful path to make it all happen.

Thank you all, and we look forward to exploring The Maze with you!

FAQ

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    ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK ============================== digital download of the ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK for "William Kurelek's The Maze," and of course, our sincere gratitude!!

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    THE DIGITAL BUNDLE ============================== HD STREAMING COPY of both films - "William Kurelek's The Maze" and "Out of the Maze" - and digital download of the film's SOUNDTRACK, VIP ACCESS to monthly updates including password-protected preview scenes from Out of the Maze, as well as YOUR NAME on themazemovie.com as a KICKSTARTER BACKER.

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    DVD + HOLIDAY POSTCARD ============================== DVD including both films + special features and subtitles in French, Spanish, + Ukrainian. You also get the DIGITAL BUNDLE and a HOLIDAY POSTCARD, our special gift to you signed by us in thanks of your support, mailed your way for the December holidays

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    BLU-RAY ============================== You get the high-definition Blu-ray of both films as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us.

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    DIRECTOR'S EDITION + SIGNED POSTER ============================== Vintage FILM CANISTER containing signed DVD or Blu-ray, a signed 8x10 color PHOTO from the making of the 1969 film, a replica of a never-before-seen 4-page LETTER written by William Kurelek to director Robert M. Young, and a BOOKLET containing: forward written and signed by Stephen Kurelek plus forward written and signed by Robert M. Young, breakdown of "The Maze" skull with interpretation by William Kurelek, transcribed version of the letter from Kurelek to Young, and rare and exclusive paintings + photos. You also get the official 24" X 36" POSTER SIGNED BY US, as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE, and HOLIDAY POSTCARD.

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    UNIVERSITY/GALLERY PACKAGE ============================== For internal use of universities or galleries who would like to use our two films, you'll get FIVE DVD's (a $25 savings) as well as the HOLIDAY POSTCARD and the DIGITAL BUNDLE! (Add $20 for every DVD you would like to substitute for a Blu-ray)

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    DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE (ARCHIVAL PRINT + 16MM FILM STRIP) + NAME IN END CREDITS ============================== 30" X 24" giclee print on archival paper of the never-before-seen WILLIAM KURELEK PAINTING "I am Proud of My Humility" available at your door BY THIS YEAR'S HOLIDAYS (make it a gift!). This will come with a 16MM FILM STRIP from an original 1970 print of the film! You also get your NAME IN END CREDITS of "William Kurelek's The Maze" as a Kickstarter Backer. You also get the DIRECTOR'S EDITION and SIGNED POSTER as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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    SKYPE SESSION + UNIVERSITY LICENSE ============================== A 30-minute personal Skype Q&A session with the filmmakers. Includes Public Performance License to screen "William Kurelek's The Maze" in your university or college over the next 3 years. We will also mail out an advanced screener (DVD or Blu-ray) of the film as soon as the Kickstarter ends, then the finished version as soon as the film is complete. Includes the DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE, SIGNED POSTER, your NAME IN END CREDITS of "William Kurelek's The Maze," as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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    THE ARCTIC SERIES ============================== original lithographic print from William Kurelek's Arctic Series, donated by the estate and signed by William Kurelek's son, Stephen Kurelek - only 4 prints in the series are available. With this you will get a DVD of "Fight for Life," the Emmy-Award-winning 1970 documentary from director Robert M. Young, signed by Young himself. Young documented the life of the Netsilik, a Polar Innuit people, during their very last traditional Winter Camp on the sea ice above the Arctic Circle. Includes DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE, a 20-minute SKYPE Q&A session if requested, SIGNED POSTER, NAME IN END CREDITS of "William Kurelek's The Maze," as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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    PRIVATE SCREENING/DINNER WITH THE FILMMAKERS ============================== enjoy a private screening and dinner with filmmakers Robert M. Young, Nick Young, & Zack Young in LA. (travel not included). Includes the DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE, SIGNED POSTER, NAME IN END CREDITS of "William Kurelek's The Maze,"as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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    KURELEK TOUR ============================== One of the filmmakers will meet you and a small group for a trip from TORONTO to NIAGARA FALLS, on a personalized tour of artwork featured in both films. This will entail a full day of visits to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Niagara Falls Art Gallery, and other hidden locations, on an agreed-upon date. This will be a chance to discuss the paintings in detail; seeing a Kurelek in person brings a new level of appreciation of the work. *Your travel expenses not included. Also includes the DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE, SIGNED POSTER, NAME IN END CREDITS of "William Kurelek's The Maze," as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / MAZE PATRON ============================== For making this all possible, you have an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on "Out of the Maze" (listed on imdb), and you will be listed as a MAZE PATRON in the end credits of "William Kurelek's The Maze." We will also invite you to the LONDON PREMIERE of "William Kurelek's The Maze" at the opening of the MUSEUM OF THE MIND, followed by dinner with us (travel not included). You will also get the DIRECTOR'S EDITION - DELUXE, SIGNED POSTER, as well as the DIGITAL BUNDLE and special HOLIDAY POSTCARD signed by us

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- (30 days)