Sara Liza Baumann combines her love for film, media and the arts with sound research, to tackle world issues that matter most. Right now, she’s curious about how people around the world cope with terminal illnesses. What healing methods do people living with AIDS in South Africa, cancer in Budapest or chronic diseases in Vietnam use?
In her own words:
“It was a wonderful winter morning, two days before Christmas in Northern Michigan. Families were gathering, cookies were in the oven, and holiday cheer was in the air. The fresh snowflakes that everyone had been eagerly awaiting finally fell to dust the rooftops before Christmas Eve. It was a perfect day.
Wanting to get out of the house for some last minute Christmas shopping, I set out to Suttons Bay with my stepmother and sister-in-law to sift through vintage items at a new consignment shop, Chestnuts, in the warehouse district.
Within moments we were trying on vintage dresses and hats under fairy lights, surrounded by 1960’s floral printed furniture, magical mirrors from the ‘20’s and dusty old records. It was an enchanting place, filled with memories left behind for a new owner to pick up and give a good home. It was that morning that I met Rocky.
Rocky approached me, a beautiful tall and slender Native American woman. We talked fabrics, and shared our love and passion for vintage clothes; instantly there was a connection. She began to open up to me about how these clothes have brought her friend back to life. Of course, I was immediately intrigued and how these clothes could be so powerful. I started exploring, listening and watching exactly how these clothes brought pure, innocent joy back to a woman named Martina, who has been battling pancreatic cancer.
I spent the next few weeks getting to know Martina, her family and her friends. They all shared interesting perspectives on Martina, her amazing personality and strength, and how modeling has been an outlet that has given her strength and a creative outlet to take her mind off her illness.
I documented Martina’s story in a matter of a few short days. I thought that it was such an important story and if it brought me this much encouragement, I was sure that others would be moved by the lives of these women who came together for hope and life. It is a beautiful story of how courage, friendship, vintage clothes and point-and-shoot cameras can sometimes be the best medicine.
There are more stories to be told, and other cultures to consider. After completing this short pilot documentary about Marina and her way of coping with cancer, I was left wondering about how others around the world are coping with terminal illnesses. What are individuals doing to cope with AIDS in South Africa? What about cancer in Budapest, chronic pain in South America, and chronic diseases in Vietnam? I will be researching and filming stories from different corners of the world to share stories of individuals living in countries of different development states, sharing their creative perspectives of dealing with chronic pain and illness. By bringing in different perspectives, the film will explore coping and healing methods in different cultures, exploring values, religion, disease burdens, family, art, history and a number of other ways that people in different societies express themselves and cope with illness realities. The pilot documentary for Martina is being used to start a non-profit modeling agency and art therapy center in Northern Michigan.”