February 5, 2016
Support for Ursula K. Le Guin documentary blasts past Kickstarter goal into a region of space where other worlds are possible
by Chad Felix
Science-Fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin is pretty great. For example, when, in January, armed occupiers took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, she sent a strongly-worded letter to to the The Oregonian contesting its “inaccurate and irresponsible” coverage of the “right-winged loonybirds.”
That was great.
Or how about the time she was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Medal? She took took to the podium and spoke up for the perennially maligned “writers of the imagination,” those who don’t portray the “so-called realism” that such awards typically honor, but instead offer a brand of literature that she fears humanity will soon be in need serious of, literature that offers: “alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.”
Oh and there’s also, you know, her decades-long career as writer-of-magnificence. Books that, to paraphrase Margaret Atwood, offer the world as a laboratory, a place for experimentation—as opposed to one that is a static, boring, and depressing inevitability. Books like The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, and A Wizard of Earthsea.
Now, filmmaker Arwen Curry hopes to depict some this greatness in an hour-long documentary about the author. Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin will be comprised of selections of interviews and meetings between Curry and the author that took place over the course of seven years, as well as words from authors like Michael Chabon and Margaret Atwood.
And while the project received a National Endowment for the Humanities in the summer of 2015, an endowment that covers three-fourths of the film’s total cost, there’s a small catch. As Curry explains on the doc’s Kickstarter page:
The NEH won’t release those funds until the entire production budget has been raised. That’s why we’re asking for your help to raise $80,000 here on Kickstarter. We’ve already completed the film’s research phase, and amassed most of the interviews, photographs, and other materials we need. The money we raise during this campaign will go toward specific finishing costs.
Since the Kickstarter was launched on January 31st, support has all but flooded the place, which is great. As Michael Schaub reported in the LA Times, 70% of the project was funded in just one day, and as of February 3rd, the project had reached its goal, with over $100,000 coming from over 1,400 backers, which is amazing. The campaign ends on March 3rd, so prospective backers still have plenty of time to show their support (not to mention get in on the Ursula K. Le Guin totes). Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin should be ready mid-2017.
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.