The short documentary, “A Mother’s Will,” which was co-produced by two Shenandoah faculty members, was just selected as Best North American Documentary Short at the Alternative Film Festival in Toronto. It also won Best Documentary Short at the Clifton Film Celebration.
The short has screened at a number of film festivals this fall, including the Compassion Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado, and the Asheville Film Festival, in Asheville, North Carolina, the Strasburg Film Festival in Strasburg, Virginia, and the International Shorts Film Festival in Melbourne, Australia. All of the short’s accolades are available at Varla Dogwood online.
The short, which has also served as a platform for the larger-scale documentary, chronicles the production of the rock opera “A Will To Survive,” starring Ann-Charlotte Robinson of Middleburg, Virginia. The film and stage production tell the story of Robinson’s son’s suicide.
Editing on the feature documentary is set to begin by the end of December.
Adjunct Associate Professor of Music Therapy Thomas Sweitzer ’95, ’11 M.M.T., MT-BC, and Director of The Film Studio at Shenandoah Paul DiFranco co-produced the film with Steve Nerangis, an owner of the local Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a music documentary filmmaker with Varla Dogwood Films. Nerangis also edited the piece. Sweitzer, who co-composed the rock opera’s music, is the executive director and co-founder of the Middleburg music therapy center, A Place to Be, while DiFranco is a friend of Robinson’s and has collaborated with Nerangis on other projects. Music therapy alumnus Cedric Dimapilis ’16 also composed music for the stage show.