Grad's Film a Featured Pick on YouTube
By Thomas Weaver Article published March 5, 2008
“Lusaka Sunrise,” a short film directed by 2005 UVM graduate Silas Hagerty, was a featured video on YouTube in early March. The film tells the story of an effort in Lusaka, Zambia to use the community-building force of soccer as a vehicle to gather and teach youth about HIV/AIDS. Over footage of kids playing soccer on a dusty field, a title at the film's opening asks “If your life expectancy was 35, would you fight back?” The film can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/v/kyplef2Hi6Y.
The inspiration for the work traces back to Hagerty's undergraduate years at UVM when he traveled to the Dominican Republic for a study abroad course taught by Jon Erickson, associate professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. Jeff DeCelles, UVM class of 2003 and a fellow student in the class, led an effort to use soccer as a way to build community in Batey Libertad, a settlement that is home to about 1,000 Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans, who are discriminated against within the country and suffer from extreme poverty (Read the 2004 view story on that effort). That work would grow into the Batey Libertad Coalition, which continued the work of creating positive social change through soccer, and eventually connected with Grassroot Soccer, the Africa-based initiative featured in Hagerty's film.
“Lusaka Sunrise” was filmed over six weeks in the summer of 2006 by Hagerty, who earned his UVM degree through an individually designed major in film and television. Post-UVM, he has begun getting his work out through his own fledgling Smooth Feather Productions. His partners in the effort include Jay McKay, a 2005 alumnus, who created the musical score for “Lusaka Sunrise.” Operating in the gift economy since April 2007, Smooth Feather's guiding principles are detailed on their website: “We are 100 percent volunteer, no exceptions; We don't ask for anything, we work with what we have; We do small things, change ourselves not the world.”
“It's been a really exciting ride how it's grown,” Hagerty says. “We've enjoyed hooking people up with free movies, and it's wild to see it supported.”
More on Smooth Feather: www.smoothfeather.com
More on “Lusaka Sunrise”: www.lusakasunrise.com