Kingston-based artist Heather Haynes has joined with local production company Untold Storytelling to produce The Common Thread, a film about her travels to Congo.
The Journal spoke with Braden Dragomir, director of The Common Thread, and Haynes about their collaboration and hopes for the film ahead of its Mar. 5 digital premier through the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF).
“In the end, it was a great joy, because there was this trust that had been formed between everyone,” Haynes said. “It was a really healthy environment.”
This was Haynes first time making a film—and being its subject as an artist. It took some time for her to adjust to painting while having the film crew around.
“I most enjoyed the collaboration of other artists in my space while I was creating,” Haynes said. “It actually created a wonderful energy within the space.”
The Common Thread documents Hayne’s artistic process as she paints a multi-canvas piece of six by 15 feet that was inspired by her time spent in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I’ve been doing this work for a long time, in order to shine a light on the beautiful people of the Congo and to tell some stories behind what’s happening there that we just don’t hear about in the mainstream news,” she said.
Haynes feels a moral and artistic calling to paint the people she’s met in the Congo and share their stories of trauma and hardship.
“I think the film describes how I really don’t have a choice to create these. I can’t not paint them,” she said. “[Painting] is the only way I know how to contribute to the big story and when I’m creating, I know that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Haynes hopes audiences recognize the humanity in the stories.
“I’ve been inspired by stories I’ve watched, seen, or witnessed other people doing,” she said. “[Some stories have triggered a spark in me] that activated me to move forward and say, ‘I’m going to just try that.’”
Dragomir supported Haynes’ desire to amplify voices and stories of people often overlooked by Western society.
“[The stories of people in the Congo] deserve to be heard,” Dragomir said. “We live in this kind of North American ‘things are fine’ bubble.”
Dragomir hopes audiences are as moved as he and his team were.
“It’s a pretty vulnerable film,” he said. “It’s a very honest film [and is] pretty raw. I hope KCFF is the start of a bunch of great audiences for this film, because I think it’s a message lots of people need to hear.”
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