Documentary A celebration of women's lives
The Sault Star July 6, 2001
By ROCCO FRANGIONE
Special to The Star
BLIND RIVER — A screening of a documentary of former Miss Blind River winners and contestants filmed by former local resident Ann-Marie Kerr, could take place by the end of the year or in early 2002.
Kerr, who now lives in Toronto, says the footage is now being edited at a studio in Vancouver. The documentary was shot last summer in the community during the town's Homecoming celebration.. "The editing is the longest part of the process," Kerr said during a visit to Blind River to do live theatre in the community. "Shooting can take a week, but editing can take two years. We're aiming to complete it by the end of this year. We've talked to the Blind River museum about having a screening by the end of the year or in early 2002."
The idea to make a documentary on former pageant participants came as a result of Kerr learning that part of Homecoming included a Miss Blind River reunion. Kerr is a theatre actor and two of her actor friends said the documentary would be a great idea when they learned about the reunion.
"They said it would make a great subject for a documentary," Kerr said.
Kerr said at that point the exact theme hadn't been worked out yet. "But we shot all weekend to see what we'd get. The project kept growing and growing and that's when we discovered it was about celebrating women's lives."
Working from a prepared list the town had accumulated in connection with the Miss Blind River reunion, Kerr was able to contact many former participants six months before the actual event. "We were looking at covering about 45 to 50 years of Miss Blind Rivers and we were able to interview about 40 of the participants on the one day during Community Days," Kerr said.
In the course of putting the call out for participants, Kerr learned that word of mouth in Northern Ontario carried a long way. One person she had hoped to interview was the first Miss Blind River, but there was difficulty tracking down this person. "On the day we were shooting, an interview we did with CBC radio aired that day and I mentioned that we hadn't been able to contact the first winner," Kerr said. "We didn't have a phone number for her so I did a little shout out and said if you're out there, we'd love to see you today and talk to you about what (the pageant) was like for you in I think it was 1939. Well the lady heard the interview. She now lives in North Bay and her daughter drove her (here) and we met with her that afternoon. She also stayed overnight and was in the parade the next day and waving from a float in the annual parade."
Kerr won the Miss Blind River pageant in 1982. The documentary itself has become a means for Kerr to be able to celebrate the other women from previous pageants. Kerr has other plans for the documentary after editing is complete and it's been screened in the community.
"CBC has a program called Rough Cuts and we've talked to them about possibly screening it as part of their programming," she said. "There are also several short film festivals where we can enter the documentary."
Kerr is working on two different lengths for the finished documentary. One length is 35 minutes and that's the version that likely would be entered in competitions and the other is about 50 minutes, which is the version that could be shown on television and takes commercials into account.