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On the 20th of September 1992, two weeks into his first semester at Acadia University, Kenley Matheson disappeared without a trace. There were no witnesses. There were no suspects. There were no leads. No body was ever found. And he has not been seen since. Theories abound as to what happened to Kenley that September day in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Did he simply take off, as some (including the police initially) believed? Did he commit suicide? Was his disappearance a “Frosh Week” hazing incident gone bad? Or was he murdered, either by someone he knew or just met, or someone he didn’t know but came across at the wrong place and the wrong time? To this day Canadian investigators—from local PD and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to private detectives hired by the family—are stumped by this twenty-one-year-old cold case.
Missing Kenley, first and foremost, will be a documentary on the Kenley Matheson case. All of the details surrounding his disappearance—and the subsequent investigation—will be re-examined, and every theory as to what happened to him will be thoroughly explored. However, the film will also delve into Kenley’s full life story, and the memory of him that still resides among family members and friends. Along this second track, particular attention will be given to the two motorcycle “gap years” he took before enrolling at Acadia, most notably his time in British Columbia planting trees and his travels into Central America. The film thus intends to integrate the “missing Kenley” case—his disappearance cum unsolved mystery—with that of the experiences of the people he left behind, those still “missing Kenley,” the earnest and adventurous young man who once wrote, quoting Jack London, “I would rather be ashes than dust…I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.”
Unlike other films I’ve worked on, there really are few if any places to go for funding. Missing
Kenley isn’t a humanities project. It’s not a documentary on a political or social issue. It’s a twenty-one-year-old cold case, one that few people outside Nova Scotia have ever heard of—raising money for this kind of subject is tough. There are simply no foundations to approach. And so Kickstarter, thankfully, is our best option. This is why we are so in need—and are so appreciative—of your help. Without your donations it is unlikely that this film will be made.
If we reach our Kickstarter goal, the funds we raise will be used primarily to pay for production personnel and travel expenses—our DP and soundperson, and getting back forth from Nova Scotia over the next year or so. It will also enable us to retrace Kenley’s footsteps across Canada—from Cape Breton to British Columbia—and his travels in Central America. And critically, it will allow us to conduct further, extensive research on Kenley’s disappearance, so that no stone is left unturned, a part which will be interviewing—many for the first time, believe it or not—each and every person associated with the case.
Fortunately, our task, and the project itself, is a collaborative one, and Kenley’s family is in full support of the film. In fact, I spent a few days this past spring with Kenley’s mother, Sarah, and his sister, Kayrene—talking for hours about the case, and shooting some research footage where Kenley grew up on Cape Breton. As mentioned in the above video, some real bonds, and commitments, were made that long weekend, I think, between all of us. Ultimately, in terms of my own commitment, and hope for the film, it is that in making this documentary new evidence, and new answers, might come to light—evidence and answers that could help finally solve the mystery of missing Kenley.
Thank you for your support!
Our fiscal sponsor, Filmmakers Collaborative, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was established in 1987 and is now the grantee of record for over 200 media projects across the country and $15 million in funding. Your Kickstarter donation will be received and administered by Filmmakers Collaborative and is thus fully tax-deductible.
Risks and challenges
One of our biggest challenges will be to coordinate the numerous locations and dozens of interviews we intend to shoot. The film will include footage taken from multiple sites in Nova Scotia (Glendale; Wolfville; Port Hawkesbury; Acadia University; Halifax; Corkums Island) as well as those related to Kenley’s time on the road (Montreal; Banff, Alberta; British Columbia; New Orleans, LA; Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala). It will also be built around interviews conducted with the many people involved in Kenley’s life and/or related to his disappearance, from family members and relatives to Acadia classmates and various persons of interest, in addition to local PD, RCMP officers, and private detectives who have spent time on the case. Another challenge will be to find sufficient archival material for the film. Although the story will be unveiled in large part via interviews and contemporary footage, in pursuit of a visually rich and multilayered documentary we will rely heavily on—and integrate into the documentary—film and video from the 1970s through early 1990s. Our past documentary experience, and your generous donations, should go a long way toward meeting these two challenges.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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