Arts and Entertainment

Islanders sell out two screenings of documentary film at Lynwood Theatre

Islanders line up down the street at the Lynwood Theatre to see
Islanders line up down the street at the Lynwood Theatre to see 'Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar.'
— image credit: Living On One photo

Extreme poverty is not an issue that many people would associate with Bainbridge Island. But islanders have proved effective in helping spread awareness of it.

The documentary film, “Into Poverty: Living on One Dollar,” tells the story of Ryan Christoffersen, Sean Leonard, Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple as they live on only $1 each day in rural Guatemala.

The film held its initial screening on Bainbridge Island to a packed house, and then some.

“It was very successful,” said Chris Temple, one of the film makers. “It was phenomenal to see the response from the community.”

“A few people came up and gave Zach and I hugs,” he added. “There were a lot of tears and it was an emotional night for us.”

The island community came out in support of the documentary film that tells the story of impoverished Guatemalans, yet has its roots on Bainbridge Island.

Temple met islander Zach Ingrasci while attending Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. Ingrasci, who graduated from Bainbridge High School in 2008, brought fellow BHS graduate Sean Leonard (also BHS class of 2008) and Ryan Christoffersen, BHS class of 2007, on board with the film project.

In 2010, after observing a lack of media focused on extreme poverty that related to their generation, the four students decided to do something about it. They made their own film — despite being economic development majors, and not film makers.

Christoffersen, Leonard, Ingrasci and Temple spent 56 days in Peña Blanca, Guatemala over their 2010 summer vacation. They documented their experience from budgeting to falling ill — Ingrasci and Temple became sick from e. coli and Giardia. The two sick American’s lasted 10 days before breaking their experience by taking medication they brought in case of an emergency.

Through their lens, and the device of placing themselves in the situation, they were able to pan out and show the reality of what approximately 1.1 billion people experience world wide — living on only one dollar a day. Audiences are introduced to the genuine faces of poverty.

Two years later, they formed a nonprofit, Living on One, to carry the film and the message to audiences. Using Bainbridge Island as a base of operations, they completed their film and organized their nonprofit.

On Saturday, Aug. 26 the now-graduated college students premiered their documentary at the Lynwood Theatre on Bainbridge Island.

It was a hit. Originally, only one screening was scheduled for 4:45 p.m. that day, but after the show quickly sold out, and nearly 90 additional people remained eager to view the documentary, the theater cleared its schedule and added an additional screening later that night.

“We sold about 350 tickets because of the extra showing,” Temple said.

The novice film makers also met audience members at the Treehouse Cafe in Lynwood, answering questions and taking donations for the tour.

“People pitched in whether it was $10 or $5,” Temple said. “This whole thing has been a grassroots journey and people have helped. We are so thankful for what they’ve given us.”

“The money is going to this movement to engage young people and fight extreme poverty,” he added.

The premiere’s goal was to raise money to tour the film through America’s colleges and universities, raising awareness of the issue. The end of the tour will take the film to Guatemala City and ultimately to Peña Blanca where there four young men filmed the project.

The Living on One group will take the tour in a 1978 red school bus from state to state. Their website will soon show updates from the film’s tour.

Through the tour, Living on One hopes to not only spread the word, but make a point.

“We are hoping to get media attention when we go around and demonstrate to networks that young people are engaging with this film,” Temple said. “We believe it is such an important message to share.”

If enough folks take notice, the documentary will hopefully be available for online distribution, and even for people to own a copy.

“After this tour hopefully we can secure a distribution channel,” Temple said.

Contributions can be made to Living on One on their website, www.livingonone.org. They can also be followed on twitter, and on Facebook.

Temple said that the Living on One team is grateful for the Bainbridge Island support they have received.

“I just want to give a personal ‘thank you’ from our whole team to the (island) community for what they’ve given us,” Temple said. “The community has really helped make this possible and we hope to raise awareness about extreme poverty in a new way.”

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