Leone Stars Wins TIFF’s Pitch This! and $10,000

Leone Stars Player Bono

Leone Stars' Player Bono - Photo by Johnny Vong

The film Leone Stars has been chosen over five dramatic films at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Pitch This! event. Co-directors Ngardy Conteh and Allan Tong presented their film idea to a packed Bell Lightbox theatre and walked away with the $10,000 development prize.

Leone Stars was chosen the winner by a jury of 15 film professionals after a six-minute pitch and two minutes of questions and answers. This marks a historic year for documentaries at TIFF. From the Sky Down opened the festival and was the first-ever documentary to receive that honor. Leone Stars is the first document to win in the 12-year history of Pitch This!

“We worked on our pitch for weeks leading up to the event,” says Conteh, “and it paid off. We are happiest for the subjects of the film, who deserve to have their story told.”

Allan Tong added: “This is a victory for documentarians across Canada who have faced fewer and fewer sources of funding in Canada in recent years. And thanks to Telefilm and TIFF we can now go back to Africa to film the team as they compete at the All-African cup in Ghana.”

Leone Stars follows members of the Sierra Leone Single Leg Amputee Sports Club who were chosen for the national amputee soccer team. They were young boys when rebel soldiers hacked off their arms and legs during Sierra Leone’s ruthless civil war. Surviving poverty, war, and prejudice, the Sierra Leone amputee soccer team members dream of victory at the 2012 world championships. Leone Stars asks: Can victims become champions?

Leone Stars was the first documentary in English Canada to successfully raise over $20,000 in funding on the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com. The funds allowed the production team to travel to Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, and the southern province of Bo earlier this year. Additional funding is needed to follow the team to the world championships in 2012.

Leone Stars is being written and co-directed by Allan Tong and co-directed and edited by Ngardy Conteh. The film is produced by Walter Forsyth (Gorgeous Mistake Productions) and executive produced by Jerry McIntosh.


Illustrated Children’s Book Addresses Illness, Amputation and Healing

Readers, young and old, have an opportunity to learn about amputation and amputees in new book

How many times have you said, “Nobody understands what it’s like to be an amputee”? Or how many times have you had to explain to children what an amputation is and why you had to have one? Wouldn’t it be nice if people knew that an amputee is just like everyone else, except that he or she is missing a limb or limbs and might have to find creative ways of doing things?

Author/illustrator Mary Garcia’s new book Boo-Boo’s New Leg: A True Story of Illness, Acceptance, and Healing was produced for that very purpose. Although it’s technically a children’s book, the story, which is illustrated with colorful pastel drawings, is one that both children and adults can enjoy and learn from.

In the book, readers meet 10-year-old Sara, who shares the story of a sick adult friend who is hospitalized. When her older friend has an amputation, Sara learns about the operation, what it means, and why it is done. While saddened to see her friend lose her leg, Sara learns valuable lessons from the experience, which she passes on to readers.

“I was inspired to write and illustrate this book because of the nickname, ‘Boo-Boo,’ that my friend’s young daughter, Sara, gave to our mutual friend who experienced a painful vascular illness resulting in the amputation of her left leg below the knee,” says Garcia. “Boo-Boo’s positive outlook and wonderful sense of humor could be used to educate children about the reality of illness, hospitalization, and how that kind of positive outlook aids in healing.”

Garcia says that she herself learned that “one’s life can be just as fulfilling after an amputation as it was before, and a good sense of humor IS the best medicine of all.” She encourages people to use the book as tool to talk to children about what can happen during illness, treatment and recovery.

Mary Garcia

Mary Garcia

“Sometimes the most difficult medical choices can bring about the healing of not only the body but the inner self as well,“ Garcia says.

Boo-Boo’s New Leg is an excellent addition to the limited books available for children about amputation and amputees. For more information about the book and the author/illustrator or to purchase the book, visit marygarciabooks.com or booboosnewleg.wordpress.com.

A portion of the sales of Boo-Boo’s New Leg will be donated to the Amputee Coalition and the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation.

Filmmaker Strives to Complete Documentary on Prosthetics

Out on a LimbAward-winning producer/director Daria Price has launched a crowdfunding campaign via the Web site Indiegogo.com to raise funds for some of the postproduction expenses of finishingher documentary about the science of prosthetics. From Walter Reed Army Medical Centerto university labs across the country to the Amputee Coalition’s camp for kids, Price’sdocumentary, “OUT ON A LIMB,” will take viewers on a trip through an intriguing science that ischanging what it means to lose a limb.

What was futuristic just a few years ago is occurring now, according to the film. Advancesin prosthetics always coincide with wars, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have spurredunprecedented focus and funding, just as emerging technologies and developments in neuroscienceare providing opportunities that never existed before.

Soldiers who have lost limbs receive the most media attention and the most advanced prosthetics,but they are only a fraction of the nearly 2 million amputees in the United States alone. Every day,more than 500 Americans lose a limb to diabetes, peripheral artery disease, cancer and accidents.

But, as the science, technology and products continue to improve, questions arise as to who willactually benefit from these amazing innovations? What effect will these outstanding advancesactually have on the average amputee as prices rise with the introduction of new technology andinsurance coverage is limited? Will this technology actually change lives throughout the nation, orwill it merely be something that is available to only a few?

If you’d like more information on this documentary or would like to help the filmmaker complete it,please visit the following links.

Web Site: http://www.outonalimbdocumentary.com

IndieGoGo Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/out-on-a-limb-documentary

Photos courtesy of “OUT ON A LIMB”

Web Site: http://www.outonalimbdocumentary.com
IndieGoGo Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/out-on-a-limb-documentary
Photos courtesy of “OUT ON A LIMB”