Since its premiere at the Orange Peel on May 26, Julian Price: Envisioning Community, Investing in People has been making its rounds on the film festival circuit, collecting awards along the way. The documentary chronicles the philanthropic, environmental and community work of Julian Price, during the final decade of his life in Asheville. It won its first award, The Grand Jury Prize, last month at the Film Invasion L.A. Last week, it picked up its second prize for Best Community Development Film at the New Urbanism Film Festival, also in Los Angeles, Calif.
“It feels really good,” says Erin Derham, the film’s director. She notes that one of the more difficult aspects about making a documentary is gauging the quality of your work while in the process of filming. “When you start getting into festivals, you feel a little better,” she says. “And then, when you win or you have people inspired by the story, you feel really good — that you worked hard and it was worth while.”
Awards also help open doors to additional audiences. While Derham isn’t at liberty to offer details, she notes that Julian Price will go international in the upcoming months, with an official announcement set for December.
One of the recurring themes Derham says she hears from filmmakers and festival-goers is about the inspirational component of Price’s work. “I’m not surprised that people are inspired by Julian,” she says. “But usually, when you attach a city to a film, people assume if you’re not from there, it doesn’t matter.” The fact that the documentary’s first two awards both come from the West Coast (in addition to the documentary’s inclusion in the as-yet unnamed international film festival), suggests this isn’t the case for Julian Price. Derham believes the film’s universal message of selflessness, activism and community development has helped propel it beyond the mountains of Western North Carolina.
That doesn’t mean Derham has forgotten her roots. The Asheville-based director says she has applied to every festival in the South. “More than anything, I want to make sure our region of the country knows about Julian, because it’s a part of our regional history. That’s the reason I signed on [to make the film]. No one knew [Price’s story]. I didn’t even know about it.”