Dear Friends,

October 2011: the 20th anniversary of the fire of 1991 is on the 20th of this month.

Fire Ruin Renewal Preview from Margaretta Mitchell on Vimeo.

 The Phoenix Firestorm Project film is completed! We had the first showing on Thursday the 13th and soon after the screenings began at the Oakland Museum; on Sunday afternoons, then on the 19th at our beloved local bookstore, Mrs Dalloway’s on College. Please click here for the press release in PDF format which has more detailed information.

The title of the film is FIRE RUIN RENEWAL. It is a short film, almost 23 minutes in length, just right for viewing on the TV or computer, in the museum or at a community meeting.

Over the summer I have sent off a number of progress reports to those involved in the film in many different ways. This newsletter picks up where the reports left off and asks that you all raise a glass to those who have contributed to the film. It is always wonderful when friends and colleagues share their work. I am so pleased to tell you that artist Tom Holland contributed his image of the Phoenix for the logo; Georgianna Greenwood created the calligraphic title; composer John Adams’ music is woven throughout the film; musician Odile Lavault and the Baguette Quartet enliven the history of the house; singer Francesco Genco raises her voice to mourn the ruined house; actor Earll Kingston reads the main narration and actor Julia Mitchell reads the voice of Sally.

It is a very delightful facet of the story to have the words of Sally Edwards, who grew up in the house. She was 5 years old when her parents moved into the newly built house in 1925. She is now 91 years old, living in Honolulu. We are enjoying an ongoing conversation on the phone about her years here. She contributed unique images of the family house with her grandparents’ house next door (no longer standing) as well as many other images of family from the early days of the house in the 1920-30s.

The film is packed with images lent for use by colleagues: Richard Misrach’s iconic photographic images of the Golden Gate open the film; Paul Herzoff’s black and white pictures show the house as a ruin; Raphael Shevelev shared black and white images of the hillside devastation and the color images are the gift of Nickolas Pavloff.

Of course, the film editing brings it all together and to life on the screen: Tom Bullock and Mitch Silver made my vision come alive. Being on camera was a different challenge. With the help of Stu Sweetow, Seth Affoumado and Jim Avila, it was a happy experience for me and for the house.

I want to thank Lory Poulson of Poulson-Gluck Design for the perfect packaging design.

I have received many different levels of support from both people and local businesses, and I am touched by them all because they have given me the energy to make this contribution in time for the 20th anniversary of the Fire. In the actual credits you will notice more people who contributed to the film. I want to express my gratitude to everyone.

As part of the individual artist’s grant that I received from Oakland Cultural Arts, I am committed to sharing the film with community groups. Several organizations have shown interest in showing the piece as a catalyst for discussion about the fire. Please let me know if you want to do this. Book clubs, private clubs, institutions, schools, fire departments and any neighborhood group will be able to show the DVD for that purpose.

The Institute for Historical Study
I want to express my appreciation to The Institute for Historical Study, a 501c3 nonprofit, for serving as my fiscal agent. Tax-deductible donations are still being requested to help us complete The Phoenix Firestorm Project and make it available to the community.

Please visit my blog for updates and ordering information.

All donations go toward production costs. (To those of you who have donated to this project already, thank you again.) Donations of any amount are gratefully received. Please make checks payable to The Institute for Historical Study and mail to: 280 Hillcrest Road, Berkeley CA 94705.  You will receive a confirmation of your tax-deductible donation by mail.

Margaretta K. Mitchell

Link to the firestorm blog