A film premiere, A Man with No Borders, about the life of Gilbert Popovich will be playing at the Alert Bay Legion on July 18 at 1 pm.
Gilbert Popovich was mayor of Alert Bay for over 28 years, so it isn’t too surprising that a film was made of his life.
In 2009, two filmmakers from Italy, Paola Roså, and Antonio Senter, were in the Klondike shooting a film about gold prospectors. The second screening of the film will be in Riva del Garda near the end of July.
They had already heard of Popovich through a friend who had lived in Alert Bay a few years earlier, so a trip to Alert Bay was made on their way down the coast from the Klondike.
While there the two filmmakers conducted interviews with people in Alert Bay who knew him.
No film was planned ahead of time, but “once back home, we were nourishing the idea of making a film about Gilbert,” said Roså, when asked about the origins of the project.
Italians have emigrated to many places around the world during the first half of the 20th century.
Alert Bay’s long-running mayor was one of those who emigrated from Italy and Roså and Senter thought his “story of emigration could be a universal example of engagement, open-minded mentality, and ‘adventure’ in the deep meaning of the word.”
With this in mind they approached the Museo Storico del Trentino (Historical Museum of Trentino) and presented the project.
The Museum has a section about the history of emigration, a TV channel, and Internet streaming.
Roså, and Senter received support for the project in 2012 from the Museum and returned to Alert Bay to interview more than 20 people for the film. Once filmed the pair waited another years before the Museum asked for a series to made.
Roså, noted that the long wait was of value, “we could look at the footage with a different eye. Indeed there was need to have vie different angles to describe a life.”
Five episodes and a 59 minute documentary were made and put on a DVD. The 5 episodes, were broadcast on TV and streamed online.
Italian audiences gave very positive feed back to the series with the episode on the “First Nations was the one that was best valued,” according to Roså.