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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #38: Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush, ‘Finding North’

Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #38: Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush, 'Finding North'

“Finding North,” screening in the U.S. Documentary competition hopes to make an impact on the US hunger problem.

What’s it about?  FINDING NORTH examines why 49 million people in this country are hungry when the U.S. has enough food, and how the solutions are achievable.

Says director Kristi Jacobson: “Over the past several decades our government has shifted the responsibility of feeding the poor onto the private sector, and while food banks and soup kitchens provide invaluable help to people in need, they shouldn’t be a long-term solution. In addition, we were also truly surprised to learn that obesity is a form of malnourishment, and that our nation’s obesity crisis was one of under-nutrition, not over indulgence.

“Deeply entrenched government policies favor the few at the expense of the many and the result is millions who go underfed and poorly nourished. If our goal is to eliminate hunger in America then we need to take action on the larger, systemic problems that lead to the epidemics of hunger and obesity in this country. We hope that this film is a step in that direction.

“I studied sociology, and while in school I had an opportunity to work in the juvenile court system. Part of my job included writing a paper about juvenile sex offenders, and for that paper I did extensive research, conducted a lot of interviews, met young offenders and those working with them. I observed first-hand how unjust the juvenile justice system could be to some of society’s most vulnerable…That experience set me on this path of becoming a filmmaker. I worked with (and learned a lot from) Barbara Kopple and other great storytellers, and I eventually found my own filmmaking voice. I am interested in telling stories of real people, whose experiences tell us something about ourselves, our history, and our potential – both good and bad.”

Says director Lori Silverbush: “I’ve been writing and directing fiction since graduating NYU in the 90s. I love that film gives the viewer vicarious entree into another person’s reality long enough to change their mind. It allows a political beast like me to feel she can make change in the world.

“But I originally wanted to make movies because I thought it would be glamorous. (Ha!) By the time I figured out the truth, it was too late. It was this or waitressing.

“One big challenge was getting people to share their stories because hunger carries a heavy stigma in this country; we have a cherished myth that if you’re successful it’s because you did it on your own. Hence, if you’re struggling, you must have failed somewhere along the way.

“The truth is that many people are living and working according to the rules and they still can’t afford to feed their families healthfully or adequately. It’s the system that has failed them, not the other way around.”

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

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