Documentary features founders of GJ, Uganda nonprofit
Dave and Morgan Hansow never expected their lives to be worth standing ovations.
But the first standing ovation came about 9 p.m. on March 23 after an audience of nearly 200 people watched the 60-minute rough cut of “Moving On,” a documentary about the Grand Junction couple’s decision to adopt a baby girl from Uganda three years ago and the people they subsequently met while living in the African country to try and expedite the process. The Hansows also started the nonprofit Light Gives Heat as a way to establish consistent sources of income for Ugandan artists seeking to sell their products in the United States.
The second standing ovation came 10 minutes later as the audience listened to Dave Hansow, 30, and Morgan Hansow, 29, explain why they hired four strangers to make a documentary about the hope the couple found in Africa.
“It’s a story worth telling,” said Matt Katsolis, 31, who directed “Moving On.”
The filmmakers agreed to make the movie because they thought that, although Uganda is a third-world country with poverty and tragedy half a world away from the United States, it is a beautiful nation with a hopeful side that needed shown.
“It’s a film that honored people,” said Katsolis of In-ter-pret Studios in Florida.
For the past year, the four men traveled to Uganda and Grand Junction a combined six times to work on “Moving On,” filming breathtaking shots of African and Colorado scenery to contrast closer shots of the Hansows and Ugandan people. The film was made using tens of thousands of dollars worth of high definition gear, Katsolis said.
For the past three weeks, Katsolis along with editor Jesse Schluntz, photography director and cinematographer Nic McLean and art director Austin Blasingame holed up in a Grand Junction home to sift through nearly a year’s worth of footage and put together a rough cut of “Moving On.”
“It’s so beyond my expectations,” Katsolis said.
Katsolis also has directed the documentaries “Beyond the Dream: The Joey Buran Story” and “Day of Light.” His recent projects include filming Red Bull extreme sports movies and the Discovery space shuttle launch, which will be shown in 3-D on a future date on the Discovery Channel, he said.
“Moving On” will likely end up costing more than $200,000 once it is completed — nearly 30 minutes of additional footage needs to be added to the film — released to DVD and shopped at film festivals around the country.
Nearly $120,000 already has been raised and used for the documentary. An additional $90,000 is needed to finish the film to get it submitted to film festivals, Morgan Hansow said.
A TV network has expressed interest in airing the completed “Moving On,” but Morgan Hansow said she could not say which network.
There is a lesson in “Moving On” that the Hansows want millions to get, a message that perhaps not as many people would see if “Moving On” was a short, grainy documentary made with hand-held cameras and shown to people interested in the young couple and their struggle to adopt Jadyn, now 4.
The lesson is that no matter how sad a person’s story is, the decision to believe in the hope that things will be better is a choice a person makes. It is a choice the Ugandans in the film made, despite having AIDS or dead siblings or no income.
“The movie has taken on a life of its own,” said Jerry Daub, Morgan Hansow’s father, at the screening.
His daughter was smart enough and driven enough to be a doctor or lawyer. Instead, she became an advocate for hope and a movie producer, he said.
While the documentary mentions Light Gives Heat, it focuses more on why the Hansows ended up in Uganda and the chance encounters they had with a select group of people who inspired not just the couple, but four American filmmakers.
Even “Baboo,” as Daub’s grandchildren call him, wishes there were more children like his daughter and son-in-law, who had a dream to help change the world and the gumption to actually do it.
That, he said, deserves another standing ovation.