October 25, 2004
We’ve had four very important premiers to celebrate the origins of the film. Each has been remarkably different and remarkably moving.
We started with the California premier (which was also the U.S. festival premier), at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival. The location of the festival held special significance not only because the area is home to many of the characters in the film, but it is also what Tim considers his “home turf”. The place he grew up still holds him fast with strong roots and contributed in countless ways to making the kind of person who wanted to make this kind of film.
Over 300 people packed the beautiful Sebastiani theater on the Sonoma square to see The Last Link. The “home town” crowd gave us the warmest of receptions and took great delight in the film. And the local community rallied immediately afterwards for a great reception, providing us with delicious local cheeses, beautiful wines, and treats from Henri Lapuade of Marcel et Henri Paté, who came up from San Francisco.
In Vermont, we held a very special screening at the historic agricultural estate of Shelburne Farms. Our day-long event started with exhibitions by local and national organizations revolving around building sustainable communities and preserving cultural and agricultural heritage. Through the generosity of our many sponsors, we were able to fly in from France some of the personalities from the film. Jean-Luc Mongaué, who composed and performed much of the music of the film, strolled up to greet our 400+ visitors at the Coach Barn, with Stéphane Chitrit (a young shepherd in the film) and Albert Laguyet by his side, all in traditional Béarnais garb and singing ancient songs. Before the film, the a family was given the Vermont Sustainable Farm Family of the Year award, and afterwards, we were able to hold a panel discussion on agriculture, community, and education between Vermont teachers and farmers and our French guests.
The weekend was also highlighted by Ben and Tim briefly sharing the stage with Willie Nelson at the Shelbure Museum before his concert there. Accompanied by children and young adults, each touched by agriculture and bearing gifts for Willie, Ben and Tim thanked him for his work on the film and presented him with the first The Next Link: Building Sustainable Communities award.
It was only right for us to take the film to Buffalo, Wyoming, the home of so many of our characters. The local theater gave us the evening as what seemed like the entire town turned out to pack four screenings of the film. Pete, the rest of the Camino family, and our other characters all appeared genuinely pleased with the outcome and with the film. Admittedly, Tim and Ben placed much importance on garnering the approval of their Buffalo participants. They were not disappointed, to say the least.
The French premier of The Last Link, which marked the home-coming of a project begun over 30 years before, was held in the magnificent 17th Century Parliement de Navarre building in Pau. Several hundred people were in attendance, including shepherds, farmers, members of local government, friends, the media, and American students and guests. The film premier and the spectacular reception afterwards were sponsored by Le Conseil Général des Pyrénées. Audience members were treated to rich food and selections of Basque and Béarnais music. The film was received with great enthusiasm; in fact, many expressed to Tim their amazement over the fact that an American had made such an honest and intimate film about their culture.
In regards to television showings, France 5 has broadcast the film once nationally. It plans more broadcasts in the future. At the moment, we are working on a deal to have the film broadcast in Spain. Likewise, we are pursuing public broadcasting outlets in the United States, hoping that more will follow the lead of Vermont Public Television and Wyoming Public Television in screening the film.
Copies of the film are now available for sale! We recently arranged to have NABO (North American Basque Organizations) distribute some of our videos and DVD’s. Proceeds from sales will go towards their Education Fund. To place an order with them, please visit http://www.basqueclubs.com/thelastlink/thelastlink.htmClick here to see clips from the film.