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April 05, 2018 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
When Marvin Blunte first heard about Children’s Village, he had no interest in visiting it. He changed his mind and “decided to check it out because I had nothing better to do,” he says. “In truth, I really didn't want to go. I had no interest in any sort of orphanage.”
Much more than an orphanage, Blunte found out when he visited, it is a small democratic free school in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
“It was the students that took control and taught me the ways of the village,” Blunte explains. “Children here have much more authority and it was obvious, though I didn't understand it at the time.”
During the first day of his visit, Blunte was taking photos while the children went off to class. “But one kept following me around,” he says. “I tried to make him go away, but he wouldn't leave my side.”
He later found out that his “little friend” was not simply skipping class, but was “studying” him, “because he was interested in my camera,” Blunte explains. One of the English-speaking adults from the village explained to him that Children's Village is a democratic school. That means students are allowed to choose what they want to study.
“That was when the light went off in my head and I knew I had to learn more,” he says. He spent two years researching the village for his film and also made a couple of lengthy visits during that time.
“I finally realized this place was the real deal, and it was a story I needed to tell,” Blunte says.
“6 Weeks to Mother’s Day” is Blunte’s finished piece. The documentary follows the students as they prepare a special celebration to honor Rajani Dhongchai, the school’s founder, who is affectionately called mother by all of the children. They will together be celebrating her 35th Mother’s Day at the school.
Blunte has 14 years of directing experience in television and film, including TLC’s “Miami Ink” and the Discovery Channel’s “Construction Intervention.”
Documentaries are his passion. Documentary film, he says, “is the most powerful form of storytelling because it is rooted in realism … there is nothing more engaging and relatable than watching a true story unfold in front of your eyes.”
—Anne M. DiTeodoro
Photo: Director Marvin Blunte first heard about Children’s Village from his colleague, Ladawan Sondak, who also ended up producing the film. Photo courtesy of Ladawan Sondak
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Film update: #CIFF43 alum Roll Red Roll Doc will broadcast nationally tonight at 10/9c as the season opener of PBS's POV program. Full info: http://www.pbs.org/pov/
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