AUBG Professor Launches New Documentary
Documentary Director Melody Gilbert Will Screen Clips from New Film at Upcoming Event at the Music Box Theater in Chicago
CHICAGO, Aug. 10, 2015 – After spending four years living and teaching journalism and filmmaking in Eastern Europe, award-winning documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert has chosen Chicago as the city where she’ll launch her latest documentary project. She’s on a one-year leave of absence from AUBG (American University in Bulgaria).
“The Summer Help” (www.thesummerhelp.com) reveals the challenges faced by two Bulgarian college students from AUBG during a summer in the United States. It will be the subject of a fundraising event and sneak preview of selected clips on Sunday, Aug. 24, at the Music Box Theater (3733 N. Southport Av., Chicago, 60613) at 6 p.m.
“I’m thrilled to be in Chicago,” Gilbert said. “After living in Minnesota for more than 20 years, and then in Bulgaria, it was time to come back to the U.S. and settle into a major city that has a large and vibrant film community.”
Gilbert, a prolific filmmaker who has directed six feature-length films (www.frozenfeetfilm.com), moved from Minnesota in 2011 to teach at the American University in Bulgaria (www.aubg.bg) and to seek out new stories to tell. It’s there that she learned of the J-1 visa program, commonly known as “Work and Travel,” that allows foreign college students to do summer work in the U.S. to help fund their college studies.
In the summer of 2012, Gilbert went on a 6,000-mile road trip to resort areas along the East Coast of the United States to film the work being done by college students from Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and many other Eastern European countries.
The main characters of “The Summer Help” are two of Gilbert’s students, who landed in Myrtle Beach, S.C. There they toiled as hotel maids and then took on extra work in a pizza shop and an amusement park. It was the girls’ first trip via airplane, and it was an eye-opener, in both good and bad ways. The film also features AUBG students who work in Martha’s Vineyard and in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Some of Gilbert’s students are on the production team for “The Summer Help.” Hristiana Kirova (2014) is the assistant editor, Dumitrita Pacicovschi (2015) is the associate producer, and Igor Myakotin (2015) is a production assistant. Myakotin also shot and edited some footage. Other students who contributed included Alexander Khambir (2015) and AUBG senior Sergey Zhelezko (trailer editors), and Dima Vitanova (AUBG senior), who did additional cinematography.
“I always like to involve my students in projects whenever possible so they get a taste of the real world,” Gilbert said. “I want them to understand the ups and downs of making a film from concept to completion.”
“The Summer Help,” four years in the making, is in its final stages of production. Gilbert recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to finish the film. The fundraiser event at the Music Box Theater is open to the public and will feature clips of the film, a discussion about the project, and a cocktail hour with a complimentary glass of wine or beer.
A video with Professor Gilbert talking about the film and showing a trailer is in this link to the Kickstarter campaign for film: bit.ly/TheSummerHelp .
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