Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LeeAnn Dance, Documentary Film Maker, Tells Her Story

I’ve always loved words.  The right words on a page can fire the imagination.  But words + pictures + sound = magic.  A good movie can transport me to another world, another time.

But as a journalist, I also value truth.  So when I landed years ago in CNN’s documentary and investigative unit, my world opened up, and I discovered a creativity a didn’t even know I had – using words and video to reveal truth.

I loved taking that first lone puzzle piece of a story and carefully putting it all together.  The basic facts, the carefully crafted lines of narration, the sound bites, the music – all woven together.  Done well, that finished story could enlighten, outrage, bring out a smile, or move a viewer to tears.

Sadly, CNN’s investigative and documentary unit is no more.  I, like most of my colleagues, moved onto other endeavors.  But a friend brought me a lone puzzle piece of a story a couple years ago, and I was inspired.

That puzzle piece was a letter written by a Russian Jewish mother of 12 to the two children she sent to an orphanage in South Africa in 1921.  It is an attempt by the mother, Feiga Shamis, to explain why she made the choice she did.  But there were pieces missing.  Since then, my colleague Cliff Hackel and I have been pulling those pieces together, creating and weaving a story of survival, sacrifice, and love.  At times the process is tedious and boring.  But when a puzzle piece fits and begins to reveal the big picture, we’re encouraged to keep going.  The “picture” at the end is always greater than the sum of its parts.

And that’s why I love it.

  Click the link below to see the trailer for Feiga's Choice
Click here to listen to LeeAnn on the Josh Hasten Show, Voice of Israel:

This is Week 2 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks telling a story about their work. Thanks for reading and sharing LeeAnn's post today.

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