Westminster Students Launch Documentary "Far From Home: Uganda to the Tetons"

Mar 5, 2013

Mar. 5, 2013 Film follows a snowboarder from his rocky life in Uganda to the highest peaks in the Tetons SALT LAKE CITY - As a young boy in Uganda, Brolin Mawejje never dreamed he'd be a pre-med student in the United States with aspirations of becoming an Olympic snowboarder. The documentary "Far From Home: Uganda to the Tetons" follows Brolin's journey through bullying and family heartbreak to find solace and confidence on the slopes. Westminster students are producing and directing the film, which will launch at a fundraising party on March 22, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. in the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Auditorium at Westminster College. Brolin Mawejje left an oppressive life in Uganda to find even more challenges when he moved to Massachusetts in the United States. Navigating an unfamiliar culture and social intolerance isolated him. The bullying led to depression and anger. His family life wasn't much better, and in the seventh grade, Brolin was kicked out of his mother's home. The heartbreak continued as two father figures in his life battled cancer. In high school, Brolin found an activity and friends that took him to new heights. Snowboarding gave Brolin confidence to compete on the slopes and determination to pursue a medical career. The 20 year old is now a sophomore at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, studying public health with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He also interns during the summer at Massachusetts General Hospital under the physician who saved the life of his foster father. With his wildest dreams now in reach, Brolin also dreams of being the first snowboarder to represent Uganda in the Winter Olympics. "Brolin's life is an example of how the core of human spirit comes from new experiences," said Phil Hessler, documentary producer and Westminster sophomore. "Making this film is also a new experience for me. It's defining who I will become, and I'm so inspired by Brolin's perseverance." groupWestminster students Phil Hessler and Galen Knowles are incorporating the documentary into their academic experience. The filmmaking process was a perfect fit for Westminster's new eportfolio requirement. Students must create a digital portfolio that demonstrates how they've mastered college-wide learning goals of creative capacities, leadership, teamwork, writing, global consciousness and social responsibility. "Westminster faculty have been so supportive of our goals with the documentary," said Galen Knowles, Westminster psychology and film major. "I have professors who believed in my ability to make a film before I had any idea just how ambitious of a project it would become." Making a documentary isn't just about camera angles and storytelling. Hessler utilized his close connections with Westminster business school faculty and Westminster's Center for Entrepreneurship to develop a business plan and a fundraising strategy that will be crucial to the film's success. Knowles and Hessler have been filming Brolin at Westminster and in the Teton mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Filming will continue this summer in Uganda. To help finance the documentary, students are launching a 30-day fundraising campaign on kickerstarter.com. A preview of "Far From Home: Uganda to the Tetons" will debut at a launch party, sponsored by Westminster's Center for Entrepreneurship, on Mar. 22, 2013, with live music, food and a presentation about Brolin. For more information visit http://www.farfromhomemovie.com/. WHO:posternewsize Documentary film makers Westminster students WHAT: "Far From Home: Uganda to the Tetons" Launch Party WHERE: Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Auditorium Westminster College 1840 South 1300 East Salt Lake City, Utah WHEN: March 22, 2013 6:30 p.m.

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Krista DeAngelis and Arikka Von

About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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