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Seven days of spring

Thanks for all your love and get-better-messages I’ve received since I told you about my hospital visit last week. You’re truly amazing <3

After a week of laying in bed, eating nothing but bread and baby servings of french fries I now feel much better. Several pounds lighter and a couple of shades paler, but better! Thank God.

It’s been a week of contrasts. When I started to feel sick last weekend, it was snowing and I was—like I mentioned in my previous post—freezing my butt off (mostly because of the fever, but still). And now, as I took on my first day back in the world, I had to deal with sunshine and 28°C (83°F). It felt like I had slept through a whole season! Which I probably did, in South Dakota terms. Spring must’ve been last week.

Just a screen sample from a video I shot to illustrate what snow looks like.

Oh, and before it fades too far into the past, I just want to share something fun! Right before the whole kidney thing I had the pleasure of attending a so-called “friend raiser” event with the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House (the homeless shelter where we shot “Over the Bridge”). I was honored just to be invited, and enjoyed the fact that I could see the gala venue at the Hilton downtown from the inside, but I had no idea what was awaiting me there.

In hindsight I see that I probably should have taken the hint, but oh well. I just remember thinking people were unusually welcoming, “but hey, these people run the biggest homeless shelter in the state — hospitality is their thing,” so I didn’t think twice about the fact that everyone knew my name or wanted to say hi.

Apparently I was “the guest of honor” — something that only became clear to me when I was asked to step onto the stage area in front of a 170 people crowd to receive a “Sincere Appreciation Award.” I did not see that coming, but I can’t express how much that particular award means to me. When Sarah and I started producing “Over the Bridge,” our main goal was to raise the awareness of homelessness, and by receiving this type of recognition from the people who sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to help the people in need in Sioux Falls, it feels like we succeeded.

We have won several awards for the filmmaking aspect of it, but nothing felt quite like receiving a humanitarian award for the work we did. The circle was suddenly completed, and I now know that Over the Bridge has fulfilled its purpose.

To God be the Glory.

Photo: Naras Prameswari.

Maria

New Words and Nice Meals

This weekend was so packed it didn’t really feel like a weekend at all, but I had so much fun that it didn’t matter.

It started off with tons of errands, emails and meetings on Friday, then on Saturday I attended my first ever “Luncheon” with the Board of Trustees at Augustana.

When I got the invitation from Augustana President Rob Oliver a couple of weeks ago, I honestly thought he meant to write “lunch” and just added “eon” by accident, but it turns out that “luncheon” is an actual English word. Who would have guessed! I’m so happy whenever I can add another word to my vocabulary, and I wouldn’t be opposed to making this a regular one. (To any new readers who now wonder how I even got into college … I’m Norwegian, okay)

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it means:
“A formal usually midday meal as part of a meeting or for entertaining a guest.” 

Anyway, I was there as a presenter and told the story of how I came to Augie, and how that somehow led to NYU and the opportunity to bring “Over the Bridge” to film festivals all over the country.

Just being there was an honor in itself, but to stand alongside my fellow students and friends, Kofi Gunu and Matthew Watt, was simply amazing. They inspire and impress me, and I’m excited to see the great things they’ll do in the future.

With Kofi Gunu, Matthew Watt and President Rob Oliver. Photo: Becky Blue.

Also, an important detail: Ole was there too! Throughout my years here at Augie, this guy is the closest I’ve been to having a date, so a big shoutout to this handsome fella for always being there for me.

Following the luncheon, “The Fam” (aka a large group of individuals who—despite our diverse backgrounds—consider each other family. Read more HERE) and I went to Falls Park for a photoshoot, which I’ll tell you more about in my next post. But I can tell you it involved a live Pyton snake, so you don’t want to miss it. Stay tuned!

Bless you,
Maria

Escapes and Paths

Good evening, and happy belated Easter!

In my last post I mentioned the guest I was expecting in my dorm room — a TV-crew from KELO. I already shared the link on Facebook, but some of you have asked when I would post it on the blog, so here you go.

Click on the picture below to start video:

After a year with numerous media appearances I have realized that I prefer TV over radio. I don’t know why, but my English is significantly better in front of the camera. On the radio I sound like I a freshly immigrated kid reading off a script without knowing how to say the words, but on TV I feel more like myself, haha.

Well, with our without my Scandinavian accent, I think KELO did a really good job telling a story I never thought would be told on a screen. I already shared my secret about “The tumors that changes my life” on the blog, but it was a different experience having it told by someone else.

Reported by Brady Mallory/KELO, 2017.

Some of you have asked why I’ve done so many interviews lately, and I honestly don’t know how it happened. I’ve simply been contacted by the media and accepted the offers. Not because I want the attention, but because it allows me to continue shedding a light on an important social issue through Over the Bridge and because I’m a storyteller looking to inspire with my work.

Here’s the full radio interview I did for SDPB with lots of extra footage and special features from the production process of Over the Bridge.

To see more, go to Media Appearances under “Maria” in the menu above.

Have a blessed night,
Maria

Talking about NYU & filmmaking on the radio

Hello!

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I was invited to the “In the Moment Live” radio show with Lori Walsh at the South Dakota Public Radio.

 

This is the second time I’ve done a live radio interview, and it was nice to be back, even if I still think radio is more intimidating than TV. I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with the fact that TV allows you to use more than just your voice to express yourself, and since I’m sort of an immigrant with an intermittent accent, it’s always interesting to see hear how it turns out, haha.

To watch my other interviews, CLICK HERE.

You see, after almost three years in the US, my accent fluctuates between “so American that people ask if I’m from Watertown, SD” and other times I sound like I came riding into the US on a fjord-horse just two days ago.

But with or without accents, I’m happy with how it went and Lori made me feel comfortable in the setting. We talked about Over the Bridge, NYU Tisch and everything in between — for almost 17 minutes. So feel free to hit the play button below and listen along.

 

Or click on this picture:

 

Have a blessed day,
Maria

Over the Bridge is now on DVD

I’ve been waiting to share this with you for a while, and now it’s finally time:

Our documentary about homelessness in Sioux Falls, Over the Bridge, is out in DVD-format, and you can buy it here on the site!

Just click “Shop” in the menu above, or use THIS LINK to go directly to the product site.

20% of the proceeds will go directly to Bishop Dudley Hospitality House — the shelter where we first met the people in the film. The volunteers there do an amazing job with the homeless in Sioux Falls and deserve every penny they can get to keep up the service. I wish we could donate more of the total sum, but the production costs for an edition this size were simply too high.

365 days ago: With Robert Eggers, the star of the film. Photo: Sarah Kocher.

We also have a Norwegian edition for all those wonderful people who supported us from across the ocean, and both versions have a section with extra material from the production process. CLICK HERE.

Bless you,
Maria Lavelle

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