By Sally Warburton

“Let’s Shine Together. Let’s Change the World.”

Film Premiere of Kasha Sequoia Slavner’s documentary The Sunrise Storyteller

The WE Global Learning Centre was a busy place on Saturday, November 17 when Kasha Sequoia Slavner’s documentary film had its Premiere screening in Toronto. Kasha is a teenage documentary filmmaker who has just finished a festival tour of 55 festivals. At 19 years of age, she’s already won 24 awards for her documentary film and has launched a TED-style talk on social media. Kasha she won 2nd prize in the Raindance Film Competition – also known as the ‘dragon’s den for filmmakers

Kasha’s documentary film starts off with a very young Kasha living with her mother wanting so much to have a passport. Her ecstasy of receiving her first passport after five years of delay was shared with all the viewers. The passport was her door to the world. A world this young girl wanted to explore and help. Kasha has been known as a global teen leader and change maker since she was 8 years old. As a youth delegate, when she was 14, representing Canadian Voice of Women for Peace at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women she learned about the problems people in certain countries have around the world. She, therefore, wanted very much to travel to these countries.

Visiting seven countries with her mother Marla, Kasha learns about poverty, teenage pregnancy, education, human trafficking, and other conflicts. Her travels started off as a photography project, but once she returned home, her photography expanded into a documentary film project. She decided her way of making others aware of these issues was through a documentary film. She was able to do this through her Media Hub – The Global Sunrise Project, to do some crowdsource funding.
The Sunrise Storyteller was a moving film filled with hope, inspiration and caring. It depicted the positive ways in which organizations are helping. Volunteer Erica Ross was not only in attendance at the film screening but was enthusiastically shown leading a group of women in a dance class in the documentary.

Featured in the documentary was Vietnamese-Canadian napalm bomb survivor and Unesco Goodwill Ambassador Phan Thai Kim Phuc. She was 9 years old when the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of her was taken during the Vietnam War in 1972. She shared her story of being very badly burnt and the horrors of the war as a child. It was a moving experience for the audience.
The Sunrise Storyteller had its World Premiere at the UN Commission on the Status of Women where it was very well received. Kasha received standing ovations. The film has also been screened in many countries such as Nepal, Morocco, USA, Portugal, England, Western Canada and countries in Europe.
Following the film screening, there was a panel discussion including Janis Alton, volunteer chair at Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. May Lynn Quan, founder of Kids Canada, and Kasha. The panel was led by moderator Joyce Foster. When the audience asked questions, one woman said that Kasha was an example of perseverance; the audience was in complete agreement and applauded loudly.
Family, friends, members were all happy to be in the audience of the Toronto Premiere screening. The state-of-the-art WE Global Learning Centre near downtown Toronto was a perfect location. It’s a venue, which has its roots in the “Me to We” campaign and features a modern, comfortable room with large screens on three walls to allow optimal viewing by the audience.
For sale were Kasha’s t-shirts, hoodies, bags, and mugs with slogans such as “Let’s share together,” “Let’s change the world.”, “Rise & Shine,” “Changemaker,” and “Creative, Caring, Connected, Catalyst.” These are also available online.
50% of the proceeds from the Premiere film screening were to be donated to organizations featured in her documentary film.
Kasha stated, “We have to keep the movement strong and to get out there.” She indeed encouraged us all to do that through her documentary The Sunrise Storyteller. She and her mother Marla are returning to South Africa next week for the Celebration of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary.