Saturday, March 1, 2014

A forgotten Canadian “genius” subject of new documentary film

He toiled in obscurity for years, producing genius. No one knew his name. It drove him mad. He cut his ear off. He died in an institute. Today, Van Gogh’s art is priceless.

Here’s another. Moby Dick was panned by critics. Melville passed away alone in a dilapidated flat somewhere cold, and miserable in New York state, with pennies in his pockets. Today, of course, the quest for the Great White is a crucial member in our collective story-telling repertoire.

Over-looked genius is one of those storylines we simply can’t get enough of – it’s probably the reason, one of them anyway, why Searching for Sugarman snapped up its Oscar. It was the story of forgotten genius made right. We found him. He got his chance, after all. It felt damn good to see.

And then there’s the story of Carol Dunlop. Dunlop is the subject of a new documentary coming out this year, called Julio and Carol, which details her life’s work, and the tragic struggle she endured to create it. It’s a breath-taking, larger than life story. And no one knows a thing about it.

But here’s what we’ll find out: She was a Canadian. She was married to Julio Cortazar, one of the most important writers of the last century. She was only 36 when she died. And it was a death that came only a few months after completing arguably one of the most romantic, tragic modern adventure novels of our time.

For the last 11 months I’ve made it my mission to get her story told.

It all started after I had finished reading her book Autonauts of The Cosmoroute, the absurdly epic road trip story which she co-wrote with Cortazar. They would spend 33 days living in a VW camper van, traveling from Paris to Marseille without ever leaving the freeway, detailing their adventures as if they were great explorers. The novel is humorous. It’s mystical – revealing the power of slowing down life. And most of all, it’s damn sad. Both characters – and the real life authors, incidentally – were dying when they wrote it. This was their last big hupla together, their last hope at finding whatever truths they were looking for during their short time on this planet.

That angle right there was enough of a hook to get me to quit my job in marketing and hit the road, to start to make my first documentary. I had done radio stories and years of print journalism before, but never anything like this. I went to France. I encountered all their old friends. I traveled on the same path they did, and after that, went to two more continents, all to piece together this unbelievable adventure.

What surprised me along the way was seeing just how much work – and so much of it stunning, beautiful, timeless – Carol was able to accomplish in a very short time. One interview in particular, with Marie Clair Blais – the award-winning Quebec novelist – stands out for me. “Carol was a miracle,” she told me. “Her life was miraculous. Truly, genius. It’s truly a shame no one knows anything about her work. It deserves to be out there.”

Toronto Film Review was kind enough to give me the chance to share this story with you, now. We’re still a few months away from completing the film but we aim to release it in major festivals in the Fall of 2014.

It would mean a lot to me – and would make a huge difference – if you took a look at the teasers and read the synopsis of the film, which are available here:

As you can see, we are crowdfunding it right now. If you think this is the kind of story that should get told, please leave us a comment, share it with your friends, and if you’re really feeling generous, pick out a reward and help us tell this story, and save one more genius from being forgotten, for good. - Tobin Dalrymple

About the Directors:

Tobin Dalrymple is the writer behind Love Drive, a collection of literary travel and short stories syndicated by Filler Magazine with over 200,000 monthly readers. He came across this story last year after picking up the Cosmoroute book, and quit his job in marketing in order to tell it.

Poll Pebe Pueyrredon is an Argentine filmmaker living in Paris, with over seven years of professional film production and teaching experience. He has a expansive filmography, as seen below.

Image credit:
Poll Pebe Pueyrredon investigates Carol Dunlop in Paris.

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