Drawing the Tiger Premiere & The Earthquake

I don’t know where to begin. There is so much to say.

Since we last wrote, SO much has happened, and it has been difficult to process. I think I will try to relate it (and record it) by giving a timeline of events:

April 10th: We complete our Kickstarter campaign for the film’s finishing funds. THANK YOU! Thank you all again!

But way, there is more—

In the last 90 seconds of our Kickstarter some kind of crazy stars aligned and we got an email notifying us that Drawing the Tiger received a grant from Fork Films. The grant completed our funding gap for post-production.

(That’s right, our gap was bigger than the amount we asked Kickstarter to fill. We were wary of taking the full risk with Kickstarter. I mean, we are risk takers, but…) Scott and I did a serious crazy happy dance, then called over Kristin and our neighbors for a toast! Hale joined us with orange juice. My skin was tingling with relief and gratitude. And then relief. And then gratitude again. It’s still tingling, now and then, truth be told.

April 15th: We finalized the sound, color and music, and sent the film to Hot Docs. WHEW! Yes. Thank you AGAIN!

April 22: The Toronto Star lists Drawing the Tiger as a ‘What To See at Hot Docs’ pick.

If someone had told me our film was going to be at Hot Docs—one of the dreamiest places (not to mention probably one of the two most important doc fests in the world? Is it cool to say that?) to premiere your doc—and be picked by Toronto Star, when we started this project, I would have never believed them. Somebody pinch me!

April 23 & 24: Ramyata travels to the village to show The Darnals the film. We were all a bit nervous about this. We had no idea what to expect. And, I am sure they did not either. Ramyata brought two fully charged laptops with the film downloaded on both so she would be sure not to run out of juice.

We were on pins and needles waiting to hear about their response. Ramyata, who tends to be woman of few words, wrote her longest email to me ever— The minute it came in, I called Scott and Kristin and we gathered together. I didn’t want to read a word without them.

This is an excerpt from Ramyata’s email:

“Buwa, both moms, ramkumar, sarita, rashmita, two cousins, and the little baby watched the film. In turn, they were captivated (except Rashmita, at times dozed off, she had been working on the farm all day), emotional, moved. There were a few giggles at times.  Buwa and Ama n the others, as you can guess were quite emotional. I asked them to share their thoughts so you wud know first hand what they thought. They were gratefeul to be able to see shanta again. I asked if they felt awkward abt some of the stuff —-but no. “It’s how it is, please thank Scott and Amy in taking n trouble time to do this.”

I think they got it. Buwa’s comments.” it’s a slice of our lives just as it is”.

I did not realize how much anxiety I was holding about The Darnals’ first viewing of the film, but after taking their impressions in—my body and breath changed shape. We all cried a bit.

Now the film feels ready to be shown to Canada and beyond.

The Darnals seeing the film on the floor of their house in the village was Drawing the Tiger’s World Premiere.

Ramyata took a ton of photos. Shanta’s siblings are really growing up.

The headmaster and his family watching Drawing the Tiger. He is the only non-Darnal in the film.

That night, I have deep and vivid dreams about The Darnals and the village. We were back in the village with them.

April 25th:  We wake to a mess of messages on our phones.  A 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal. My hands were shaking as I looked at the first pictures and video in news feeds. You know it is bad when Nepal is on the cover of both The New Times and Al Jazeera. Thankfully, our dear friend and translator, Neeta, called and called and called and got confirmation that all of Shanta’s family are okay. However, their houses in the village were substantially damaged and some animals lost.

I can still hardly believe that we knew so soon that they had survived. Thank you, Neeta!

Neeta talking to the village.

April 26: Scott and I board a plane for Toronto to premiere the film with a mix of emotions.
Ramyata, not just a filmmaker, but a kick-ass journalist, covers the earthquake for major news agencies. She continues to report on the hardest hit areas. She is not just my co-director. She is my hero.

April 27 & 28: Scott and I run around with our new friend and publicist, Anne-Lise Kontz from TouchWood PR, doing interviews for blogs, television and radio. This was so fun. I was surprisingly not nervous at all. Something about the tragedy of the earthquake made all that we were doing feel delightfully less important. I felt raw and present. Scott and I were in synch.

Globe & Mail

Hair & Make up for Bollywood Blvd

Bollywood Blvd!

I love radio. I kind of want to work in. More simple!

Whew. A regular press availability whirlwind for Drawing the Tiger

Here are some of the reviews and interviews. I have yet to watch the videos. I am not proud of this, but it is hard to watch myself on camera. The great reviews of the film, however—I have read over several times.






Kristin, co-producer & Fiona, editor, arrive. It begins to feel real with our team coming together.

April 29: The day finally comes—The world premiere of Drawing the Tiger at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. It felt huge and very emotional. Two hours before we left for the theatre, the Kickstarter money arrived in our bank account. I paid everyone I could right there and then. I sent the money away. And then, cried from the deep relief and sense of accomplishment and confusion around how this film and its efforts relates to this big quaking earth.

Preparing for the big moment.

Julie Bridgham and Jim Grisham, two of our executive directors, arrive. We are thrilled to be all together.

We arrive at the Scotia Bank theatre. It feels so surreal, I think I might have had an out-of-body experience.

Scotia Bank is like FOR REAL a theatre.

Scott’s new favorite picture of Amy^^

The premiere was beyond my expectation. The theatre (that is how they spell it in Canada) was SO HUGE. It sat 380 people and was almost full. (Pretty good considering Fredrick Wiseman, one of the greatest documentarians of all time was giving a lecture at the exact same time).

Seeing our names up on the screen super big felt unreal. And the sound (thank you Bad Animals!), the music—Thank you Rob Millis and Lauren McShane—was so intense, and haunting. I loved it. On the one hand, I know the film, edit-to-edit, but it felt new. Like, something beyond us.

Here’s Scott, shooting the picture below, of our World Premiere audience!

The Q & A (Do you see what I mean about how HUGE the screen was?)

After the screenings, many audience members stayed to talk to with us about their experience. After the premiere, a young woman came up to me who had clearly been crying— a lot and asked, “Can I hug you?”

Then another woman, maybe in her 50’s, told me, “I have visited Nepal. I have trekked there, but now I feel like I have actually been to Nepal.”

This lovely woman asked for our autograph. Delightful and flattering!

All our peeps together: EPs: Jimmy Grishman, Julie Bridgham, Editor: Fiona Otway, Directors: Me & Scott, Co-Producer: Kristin Ougendal, Sundance Institute/Doc Therapist: Kristin Feeley
We missed you: Ramyata, Shailendra, Karol, Neeta, Shraddha, Ramona, Anzeela & James!

That night, I talk to Neeta on the phone and get the full download on The Darnals and the earthquake. It’s hard, upsetting, relieving, terrifying, by turns.

But more about us.

May 1: Our second screening of Drawing the Tiger sells out hours before the doors open.

May 2: Our third screening. We were in the groove. How cool are we? We didn’t even stay for the film, that’s how cool. Two of the Hot Docs programmers, Angie and Kathleen, took us for drinks. For the first time, I feel like a capital-F FILMMAKER!!!

A few words about Hot Docs: This festival is special. The people are kind and enthusiastic. The programmers made us feel really wanted—needed. They care about Drawing the Tiger. They truly love the art of documentary. We were with our people. And, they spoiled us by paying for taxi cabs and beer. THANK YOU!!!

May 3: We arrive home to Seattle and real life starts again. Thanks to the crack Grandmother childcare tag-team duo, Charlene and Patsy!

May 12: Another big quake rocks Nepal. This one is centered 7.3. It is 25 miles from The Darnals. Their homes collapse along with half the village school.

With the help of Neeta, we are figuring out how to best help them. More on that to come.

Ramyata is continuing her work as a journalist covering the quake.

This is not over. We are taking you with us. Thank you for supporting Drawing the Tiger.

Hot dogs at Hot Docs:


Leave a Reply