Local filmmaker premieres documentary

LEWISTOWN – Local filmmaker Julie Ufema premiered a screening of her latest film, “The Truth About Dane,” a documentary about her youngest son’s battle with cerebral palsy, on May 9 at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre, commonly referred to as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, in Los Angeles.

The short documentary chronicles Dane, who was born three months early with cerebral palsy, and the series of surgeries he underwent to help improve his quality of life.

Ufema has been crafting scripted films for a number of years, but “The Truth About Dane” was her first experience as a documentarian.

“It was an interesting learning curve. Normally, everything I do is overly creative, or hypercreative,” Ufema said.

A documentary should function as a catalyst of truth. It is meant to provoke ideas and critical thinking by stripping back layers of misinformation, propoganda and sensationalism and forcing the viewer to confront reality. A documentary should also function as a way of eviscerating social and political mores and taboos.

“Cerebral palsy is something people just don’t like to talk about, along with other things. Because this was with my son, I don’t think I even decided to make a documentary. As a mother, I could remember vividly taking videos of certain moments in time, so to me it fell together very easily. My heart was in it. It’s not a great story just because of the science, it’s because Dane has the best attitude of any child that’s going through something so outrageous,” Ufema said.

According to Ufema, “The Truth About Dane” was shown before a feature-length documentary and the experience was full of inspiring and blithe moments.

“It was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, so that is amazing to begin with, but they treated Dane like a rock star. During the premiere, there was not a dry eye in the room. The feature documentary was about a man with CP who climbed a mountain and at the end, Dane screamed at the top of his lungs, ‘He made it! He made it!’ It was really just a beautiful moment. After the premiere people wanted to speak and take photos with him,” Ufema said.

The short film can be viewed in its entirety on Julie Ufema’s YouTube and “The Truth About Dane’s” Facebook page.

“It’s been seen about 1,500 times now. I get calls from doctors all over the world who have offered help to Dane for free. It’s phenomenal. I’ve also received calls from parents and people all over the world thanking me for bringing the public’s attention to cerebral palsy,” Ufema said.

Ufema’s next feature, a tell-all documentary about the filming of 2011’s “Caveat,” a film shot entirely in Mifflin County, is due out in June.