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Brigitte Perreault Discusses “EVEN THOUGH THE WHOLE WORLD IS BURNING” with director Stefan Schaefer

Even Though the Whole World is Burning is the first documentary filmed about the life and work of W.S. Merwin. Directed by Stefan Schaefer and produced by Williams Cole, the movie was filmed in Maui, France, and New York City.
A founder of the production companies Cicala Filmworks and Silver Shepherd, Stefan Schaefer is an American writer, director and producer of independent films and television shows.

BP: Could you please share with our readers how you met Mr. Merwin, what you hope viewers will take away with them after viewing the movie, and your personal impression of Mr. Merwin after spending time with him during filming?

SS: Almost five years ago - shortly after moving to Maui from New York - I met the Merwins at a dinner party, and I learned there were several production companies interested in making a film about Merwin's work and life. I was asked to read their proposals. I read the proposals and recommended one company, as I'd seen and liked their films. Then about six months later I received a call that it hadn't worked out, and that William had said: "Well why can't the nice man up the hill make the movie?" He and Paula had recently watched one of my narrative films (ARRANGED), and thought I might be up to the job.
At first I was reluctant, as documentaries can be unwieldy beasts. You never know where the funding will come from. How long it will take. What the narrative Structure will be.But as I consider edit, and met with William several more times, I of course realized I couldn't turn away from this amazing opportunity. Although raising the funds and making the film has been a challenge, it has also been one of the most fulfilling directing experiences for me to date.
I hope viewers will take away what I as able to take away from the filmmaking process. I hope they are inspired to reflect on their own creative processes and passions. I hope they will look for ways in which they can leave the earth in a better state than they found it. I hope they are moved topick up a book of poetry or prose, and perhaps read it aloud to a friend or loved one... On a very basic level, of course I hope they are entertained - moved to tears, to laughter, to conversation.
"To me, he's just a really profoundly inspiring artist who's lived his life on his
own terms," says director Stefan Schaefer."When I spend time with him or look at his work, he's made bold choices and he's been true to himself, and that
has worked for him."

W.S. Merwin is a vibrant, humorous and challenging subject, and has not been
involved in a feature documentary before. This film is an intimate portrait of a
man who is often called a "national treasure".

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