Completing your father’s dying wish is one of the more daunting tasks that life can hand you. Particularly when your father happens to have been so brilliant that only a masterpiece would really do.
My dad, Peter Wintonick, was a remarkable filmmaker who devoted his life to the idea that documentaries can change the world, one story at a time. He passed away in November.
For the past few decades, Peter had been obsessed with the concept of Utopia. He shot hours and hours of footage as he travelled around the world on his quest. Over the years, he became busier and busier mentoring young filmmakers and jurying film festivals, and so the project was put on the back burner, but he always intended to return to it one day. He envisioned it as his final film, joking that if ever he actually found Utopia, he would just stay there and send the rest of us a postcard.
When Peter was diagnosed with cancer this past fall, he rekindled his efforts and began planning the film in earnest, knowing that the time for his final film had come. Pouring his creative energies into the project became a way for him to turn his terminal diagnosis into a gift. Unfortunately, he passed away much sooner than we’d all hoped and so the film remains unfinished.
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With the help of Peter’s friends at EyeSteelFilm and with support from the documentary community that thrived in Peter’s presence, I plan to complete the film. Be Here Now will be a portrait of Peter through his obsession with searching for a better world. With Peter as our guide, we will explore the world’s imagined Utopias, from Don Quixote’s idealism in Spain, to Le Corbusier’s utopian urbanism in France, to Gandhi’s peaceful resistance in India. The film will be poetic and playful, just like my dad, and will reveal wisdom he had yet to impart.
There are dozens and dozens of tapes of Peter’s journey, each a puzzle piece that I’m hoping to assemble into some approximation of his final vision. But I need a hand putting it all together, and so we are raising money to hire an editor. There are just a few days left in our campaign and so we are reaching out for help in bringing Peter’s final film to life.
As I start to go through the footage, I travel back in time, back to a time when Peter was still alive. As he strolls through the pastures of England in search of Camelot, I hear him breathing quietly behind the camera. I catch glimpses of his shadow as he explores the Australian Outback in the bright, hot sun. And every once in a while, he turns the camera around on himself and stares right into the lens, right into my eyes.
To help bring this film to life, visit this website before February 28th.