Join filmmakers of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, an upcoming documentary celebrating the prolific science fiction/fantasy writer this Valentine’s Day for their “Le Guin on LOVE” meet-and-greet at Borderlands Books.
As Last Gasp Books summed it up short and sweet on their Facebook, “Ursula K. Le Guin aimed her genius at the margin between genre fiction and ‘serious lit’. And lo, the margin evaporated like so much mist.” Her progress as a writer also eventually led her to adopt a feminist perspective that unfolded across her transformative career. Female protagonists slowly entered her work after years of writing about male-dominated worlds and she began to explore ideas she described to The Paris Review in 2013 as being “radical” in her youth.
Filmaker Arwen Curry has been researching and writing about Le Guin for the past seven years. This past month she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $80,000 toward completion of a documentary exploring the inspiration behind Le Guin’s Earthsea young adult series, the award-winning science-fiction classic The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), and countless other works.
Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin captures exclusive interviews and intimate footage of Le Guin, who has published over fifty books exploring uncharted lands, utopian ideals and humanity’s tumultuous attachment to technology, to uncover the revelations that fueled her writing.
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American fiction isn’t the same after Le Guin, now 86-years old, said Curry. Her work has fundamentally bridged the divide between genre fiction and literature to influence new breeds of writing from novelists like Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman, all of whom appear in the hour-long documentary.
Even though it took quite a while for others to realize, Curry notes that Le Guin’s “grace and persistence as a writer she paved the way for other writers to cross those boundaries without being put down and dismissed in the same way.”
Upon receiving a prestigious grant of $600,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to release the documentary, Curry and her partner organization, the Massachusetts-based Center for Independent Documentary, are now on a mission to raise the remaining $200,000 through crowd-sourced fundraising to line up with the film’s budget of $800,000.
Le Guin grew up in Berkeley, CA, with her father Alfred Kroeber, the notable anthropologist who studied and worked with the last surviving member of the Yahi Native American people.
“I think especially for people living in California, in particular, there’s this really interesting backstory that resonates with us,” said Curry. “She took a painful legacy and explored it and confronted it through science fiction throughout her career.
Filmmaker Arwen Curry with the author during the production of ‘Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin’
Curry has been a fan of Le Guin for many years, recalling how her words lined the bookshelves of her youth. Particularly influenced by the tunnels in the The Tombs of Atuan (1971), a story about a child taken from her family and forced to rule an underground labyrinth, and Always Coming Home (1985), a tale of a tribe that rejects modernistic aspects of society for adoption of a hunter-gather themed culture, Curry hoped to discover the motivations behind these settings.
Over the past several years she has also traveled with the novelist to her to her Napa Vallery ancestral home, the Oregon Coast and throughout the city of Portland, Oregon, where Le Guin currently resides—all areas that laid the groundwork for the fantastical worlds she built through her stories.
In the end, Curry’s time with Le Guin amounts to more than just a retrospective on the artist and will hopefully illuminate new paths for generations of writers to come.
“I think we have a lot to learn from her as writer and as a person and how to stay open and limber in our minds throughout our lives to listen to each other and use this incredible organ of the imagination for what it was intended to do,” said Curry. “To give us flexibility and let us change and hopefully create the world we really want to live in.”
The Sunday, February 14th filmmaker meet-and-greet wine and cheese event will be from 3-5pm at Borderland Books at 866 Valencia Street. For more information on the event, visit here.
Click here to learn more about or donate to the documentary funding for “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin”.