Kelly Saxberg is waiting.
The 49-year-old filmmaker and mother of three finished a film called Under the Red Star in August of 2011 and has since tried to submit the historical and dramatic documentary to film festivals across North America. She submitted it to big named festivals such as Hot Docs in Toronto and Cinefest in Minneapolis, Minn.
But she hasn’t heard back from them yet.
“You submit to festivals and you wait,” Saxberg said. “You just got to cross your fingers. It’s a bit of a craps shoot. You don’t know if you’re going to get in and you don’t know if they are going to like it. Giant festivals only look at a few minutes of your film and if they aren’t interested you aren’t going to be selected.”
Under The Red Star tells the story of the Finnish community and its connection to the Finnish Labour Temple in Thunder Bay.
Saxberg, who is Finnish, said the hall had a deep connection to the community because it was the place where everything happened from sports to politics.
Many of the stories she came across always seemed to come back to the Finnish hall.
“When you think of Thunder Bay, everyone knows the Hoito,” she said. “Everyone goes to the Hoito so it’s interesting for them to learn the history of the restaurant. I wanted to tell this story because I have Finnish heritage and Finnish roots in this country. When I moved (to Thunder Bay) 15 years ago as a filmmaker, I couldn’t find a job anywhere so I made my own films. The first stories I looked for were those Finnish ones.”
Saxberg said she`ll be taking the film overseas as well in hopes to show it at festivals in all across Europe including Russia and Finland.
She said she feels more connected to her Finnish roots because of her work. It has allowed her to travel to and from her great grandparents’ home country and helped her explore more of the Finnish history.
One of the biggest challenges for the filmmaker was managing the costs. With a budget of $270,000, the film struggled to cover the cost to pay the cast and crew. Saxberg said it’s the same struggle she’s had with all her films but was happy that she could apply for grants from Ontario.
Despite some crewmembers, most of the crew was made up of local people, she said.
The film is available on DVD at the Finlandia or for order at Saxberg’s website.
Follow Jeff Labine on Twitter @Labine_reporter