I am pleased to be involved, in some small part with this project. I hope this blog will bring awareness of the movie and inspire you all to consider the impact of such an event and the consequences for all. Thanks to Charmaine for asking me for my support.
Back Home Again
By Charmaine Hammond
Have you ever had someone share their big WHY or dream with you and in a blink of an eye it was a “heck yes” to get involved? That was my response when I was introduced to Michael Mankowski, a Fort McMurrayite with a big vision and an important story to tell.
I had lived in Fort McMurray for 15 years. In late 2016, I returned to the community to work on a community recovery and resilience project with the school boards. A colleague suggested, Michael and I connect because we are both writers. Little did I know then I’d be saying “heck yes” to an incredible project.
In a 30-minute conversation, Michael shared the big why behind his vision for an animated film, that would become a conversation starter about mental health. His passion for this project is as strong now as it was when his idea was storyboarded five years ago.
Back Home Again was inspired by community resiliency, after one of the largest wildfire evacuations in Canadian history, impacted the lives of more than 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo in 2016. Told through the eyes of the woodland creatures that inhabit the land of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, Back Home Again has an all-star voice cast, who donated their time to the production, including Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Howie Mandel, Ed Asner, Lorne Cardinal, Gordon Pinsent, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Tom Green, Norm MacDonald, Harland Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Marlon Wayans, Scott Thompson, and Tantoo Cardinal. The film will launch in September 2021.
Michael wanted to make this film because he grew up in Fort McMurray and was there when the tragedy hit. “I wanted to show the world how a community could come together and rebuild. I hope this film sparks conversations everywhere about how we are all one global community, and we all need one another.” Now, more than ever this local story with a global message could not have a more perfect time given what the world is living in and navigating through with a global pandemic. The film will be supported by mental health resources that are being co-created by Canadian Mental Health Association.
This film and project is rooted in community and collaboration, in fact, that was a big part of the reason that I was a Heck YES! A number of partners, sponsors, contributors, social ambassadors and community champions came together to bring this philanthropic film to life in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Red Cross. “The arts are fundamental to the human experience and are integral to healing and restoring well-being post-trauma. The truth of that statement shone through the events of 2016, through the community coming together as one, through subsequent hardships and recovery, and once again through this animated feature, Back Home Again” says Liana Wheeldon, who is the Executive Director of the Arts Council Wood Buffalo. This Heart of Back Home Again video, provides a great overview https://youtu.be/hw7YwU0pjY0
I always say “it takes a team to raise a dream” and Back Home Again and Michael’s commitment to his vision, is living proof of what happens when passion, purpose, powerful stories and people come together.
For more information on Back Home Again please visit http://www.backhomeagainmovie.com and follow:
Instagram: @backhomeagainmovie Facebook: @BackHomeAgainMovie
Twitter: backhomeagainmovie #BackHomeAgainMovie