|Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories: "Desert Dreamers" Press Release|
A New Documentary from Truly CA on KQED Public Television 9
Premieres Sunday, September 24 at 6pm
September 15, 2006, San Francisco, CA -- The newest documentary in KQED's Truly CA series (www.kqed.org/trulyca) takes the viewer on a journey to one of the hottest, driest, and loneliest places in the United States. California's Mojave Desert is home to an eccentric bunch of desert dwellers-artists, hermits, UFO seekers and believers in religious miracles-and Desert Dreamers takes us into the lives and pasts of five of these fascinating individuals. Though at first glance urbanites and suburbanites might take them for drop-outs, charlatans, or space cadets, these desert denizens all chose the Mojave for the same reason: the freedom to chart their own paths, and the space to fulfill their desert dreams. Peter Fonda narrates Desert Dreamers, premiering Sunday, September 24 at 6pm on KQED 9.
Desert Dreamers introduces us to Leonard Knight, who continues to paint the mountain where his hot air balloon deposited him 30 years ago. With each new bale of hay, painted flower, and pile of clay, Leonard hopes his adobe creation comes closer to proclaiming his heartfelt message to the world: 'God is Love.'
Though she is no longer an exotic dancer, Dixie Evans remains incredibly flirtatious at 79. Once the 'Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque,' she now runs the world's only burlesque museum, and loves to tell the stories of her erstwhile rival: "We are both from Hollywood, the same age. But if you wanted to see Marilyn, you could have come to the Burlesque Theater to see me. Ooh, I might have shown you a lot more than Marilyn!"
Maurice Romero is a flamboyant artist who came to the Anza-Borrego desert from West-Hollywood to find peace in nature. After the death of his lover 10 years ago, he built a village of doll-houses to keep him company: St. Maurice Village. Now he paints flowers and talks about solitude, spirituality, and Martha Stewart.
Maria-Paula Acuna discovered the Virgin Mary's image one day in a Polaroid of the sun, donned a nun's habit, and started interpreting her visitors' pictures of the sky. Hundreds of believers and on-lookers now make the pilgrimage every month to witness the spectacle. They bring the sick, the elderly, and the handicapped, and all take pictures of the sky, hoping to capture a miracle.
Elmer Long has plenty of free wisdom to dispense to those he meets. This bearded elder of the desert chose to retire early from his job at a quarry so that he could have more time for his life's work: constructing a forest of 'bottle-trees' in his yard. Each tree is adorned with dozens of bottles, and crowned with Americana collectibles he finds in the desert, like an old gold-digger pistol or a pump from a 1930's Route 66 gas station.
Despite the wild differences between the film's subjects, each has one thing in common: their love of the austere environment and the freedom and spiritual understanding that comes from the decision to live far from the centers of civilization. Each speaks not like a timid or eccentric recluse, but like a sage endowed with the wisdom of the wilderness.
The gorgeous landscapes, vast skies, and dramatic sunsets captured on film form a perfect backdrop for this examination of desert life. Contrasting images of the desert with suburban and consumerist lifestyles, Desert Dreamers forces us to examine the aspects of our lives which seem normal, but which would be considered completely alien in the desert. What do we city-dwellers lose by attempting to fit the norm? This portrait of the Mojave Desert's eccentric inhabitants suggests that happiness lies in following your dreams, however far they may take you.
Desert Dreamers is directed by Frank Suffert and produced by Lillemor Mallau in association with KQED Public Television.
About Truly CA
Truly CA is KQED's series of independent documentaries about life in the Golden State. It airs monthly on Sundays at 6pm on KQED 9. Truly CA is a KQED production presented in association with the Bay Area Video Coalition and Film Arts Foundation. Funding for Truly CA is provided by the KQED Campaign for the Future Program Venture Fund and The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. Rachel Raney is the series producer; Sue Ellen McCann is the executive producer.
KQED Public Broadcasting operates KQED Public Television 9, one of the nation's most-watched public television stations during prime-time, and KQED's digital television channels, which include KQED HD, KQED Encore, KQED World, KQED Life and KQED Kids; KQED Public Radio, the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento); KQED.org, one of the most visited station sites in Public Broadcasting; and KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources.
The Bay Area Video Coalition is the nation's largest noncommercial media arts center dedicated to providing access to media, education and technology. BAVC is a production facility, an affordable training center, a pioneer in technology-based workforce development and a critical resource for independent filmmakers.
About Film Arts Foundation
Film Arts Foundation supports the creation and success of independent film and video makers by providing education, comprehensive information, state of the art facilities and equipment, financial support and exhibition opportunities. Film Arts Foundation is a catalyst and advocate for the diverse voices of the independent film community on the West Coast and nationally.