Stalin Tafura, 3rd generation stone sculptor, chisels away at a chunk of stone quarried from Zimbabwe, beside a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The cultural landscape is about to shift, as Stalin and his 4 year-old son, Kwayedza, travel to Zimbabwe to unearth a 14-foot tall serpentine stone for a monumental art commission.
Stalin is returning to do more than carve stone. He's grappling with his own identity as a Zimbabwean artist living abroad, and striving to pass down culture and artistic tradition to his children growing up in the U.S. He finds himself constantly revisiting the same question: How do I reconcile the rapid changes in my culture with my desire to hold on to my African-ness?
Chris Leising is a documentary filmmaker. In his years behind the camera and edit deck, he has realized that not much matters more than the story. And his specialty has been ferreting out compelling characters with stories worthy of viewers' time--stories that expand and raise our understanding, shining a light on grand human achievement and the road en route.
Chris received his BFA in Film Studies from the University of Colorado. His work has been featured in several online publications, including BBC, USA Today, The Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly, Denver Post, and exhibited nationally at several galleries, including the Denver Art Museum. His first documentary film, Evil Cheesey Rides Again, is about legendary daredevil stunt-motorcyclist Terry Chesebro in Boulder, Colorado in the 1970’s, which is in the final stages of production. His most recent film takes place in Belfast, Ireland during the Brexit vote about a man becoming an atheist. Leising's work can be found at: http://oortcloud9.com
We're asking for support that will allow us to capture not only the artistic process of this monumental commission, but also significant information about stone sculpture--through the context of Zimbabwean history and rapidly changing culture. Zimbabwean stone sculpture is a vessel for cultural values and spirituality, as well as the truths it carries about sculpting families and the artists themselves.
Stalin's grandfather, who was his first sculpting teacher, is 83 years-old. Each time Stalin returns home, he shares new pieces of knowledge that feel like cultural artifacts that will soon be lost. Stalin's mother, Agnes Nyanhongo--one of the most accomplished African sculptors--is nearing the end of her career. And Stalin's 4 year-old son, Kwayedza, will be traveling with him to Zimbabwe to connect to family, their lineage of sculpting, and one-half of his cultural identity.
Additionally, this film will help Zimbabwean stone sculpture gain a stronger hold and newfound respect in the Western-dominated art world.
The proceeds from this campaign will finance initial costs associated with filming in Zimbabwe, as well as production costs in the U.S.
This film - and the chance to capture the legacy of sculpting in Stalin's family - simply cannot exist without the support of people like you. We thank you in advance for your passion, zeal, and support of independent cinema and the sharing of African cultural art forms.
Risks and challenges
This fundraising opportunity represents the first stage of our mission to bring the artistic process and the personal and cultural significance of Zimbabwean stone sculpture to life. With the circumstances involved in gathering footage in two countries, and the number of historians, traditionalists, and artists we want to include, it is vital that we acquire the funds necessary to transfer the footage and move on to the next phase of filming the artistic process that will be completed in the U.S. Although the challenges of this are significant, we are determined to capture this and see the project though to completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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