Documentary on Marfa, Told by Our Students

Dear Parents,

Zara Meerza is a British filmmaker who is looking to work with our students in order to compile information and footage to show Marfa through the eyes of local kids. More information can be found in the letter she penned below which more vividly describes her vision for the project. If you would like more information feel free to contact her at her email or our Superintendent Mr. Aguero at oaguero@marfaisd.com. You can also reach the school at 432-729-5500.

Thank you,

Marfa Schools


Dear Parents & Students,
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. It’s a real privilege that Superintendent Aguero has supported my reaching out to you in this way, and I couldn't be more excited to talk to you about this idea! To some of you, I might sound familiar - I was last in Marfa in 2015. Over the course of three months, I interviewed 80+ members of your community and met many others who were kind enough to welcome me to town, into your homes and your fantastic establishments, including this school. Since that time I have thought a lot about the best way to express an honest and accurate representation of Marfa in documentary form. I have continued to read the Big Bend Sentinel almost daily since my visits, keeping up with the city’s news, and I’ve also kept in touch with various members of the community. In doing this and in reviewing many of the interviews I filmed when last in town - I have realised that the heart of this community truly is your school. I have an idea of making a different film, one that would give the power of storytelling to the students of this school. To my knowledge, there has been no documentary that has done this before, and I think it would be incredibly illuminating to hear the story of the city through your voices, from those who form its present and future. I think there can be no better way to reflect the city’s identity than through the narrative of your experiences, hopes, and intentions. I would like to work with you, the students, to interpret your experiences of life in Marfa into films, using the city, it’s residents and its surroundings as the landscape in which to enact your stories. This process would take shape in the medium of short films written and directed by you, the students themselves, on whatever theme you’d like to explore, in whatever style you desire. From entirely fact-based tales and mini-documentaries to those based on memories, science fiction, fictional interpretations and adaptations, fantasies, dreams, metaphors, visions of the future and beyond — anything goes. These films would be intercut with documentary footage of your process of constructing these stories and your inspirations to make the feature-length end result. No idea is too big or too small, and these films can be shot in English or Spanish, whichever you feel more comfortable expressing your stories in. As a producer and director of the overall film, it would be my pleasure to facilitate your vision to form a cohesive wider movie made up of your stories, ones that I believe together would embody the multi-faceted central experience of the city of Marfa today. I explicitly do not want this to be like certain cases that have gone before where the town has been misrepresented or used for parachute journalism. I have listened carefully to the student's views on issues like the XX music video shoot on MPR and other instances. Instead of that experience, it is my hope that this could be an empowering personal journey for you, the students, to speak back to these other interpretations of your city that have been less inclusive or equally representative. This would be your film. My intention is for this to be a participatory film in every sense, and I would hope to use local talent in as many roles (acting, crew, etc.) as possible to benefit the community’s economy as best I can. The films would solely be shot on location in Marfa, working around your schedules. This lack of interference with daily and academic life and being true to your experiences and voices is my absolute priority.
Over the course of this project, it would also be my hope to help contribute to the great work the community already does in arts education and skill-sharing in the realm of professional filmmaking also. The children and teenagers of this community are very special, and I believe have powerful stories and experiences that the world needs to hear. I would be honoured to play a small part in bringing these stories to a wider audience. If you feel like you have a story you want to tell as a part of this film, have any ideas, want to discuss anything or ask any questions, I would love to hear from you at zara@zarameerza.com.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Zara
The Boring Part...
A bit about me - I’m Zara Meerza, a 29-year old British filmmaker based between London, New York, and Los Angeles. I hold degrees in Art History from Cambridge University, University College London and the University of Manchester. I have worked for the BBC, Sky Arts, the British Film Institute, Warp Films and more. Previously my work has been supported by Sheffield DocFest, BAFTA, The Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, the National Film and Television School, All3Media, and Creative Skillset.
I first came to Marfa as a tourist in Spring 2014. I quickly realised there was much more to the city than I had assumed. Three years later I’m still learning more about Marfa everyday. You can find out more about me at www.zarameerza.com or ask me any and all questions at zara@zarameerza.com.