An animated short film will soon be released highlighting the mental health of Fort McMurray following the Horse River wildfire.
‘Back Home Again’ tells the story of individuals who fled the beast, the heroes who fought the blaze, and how the community came together through the eyes of the woodland creatures who inhabit the region.
“I really wanted to make this film because I grew up in Fort McMurray and was there when this tragedy hit,” said Michael Mankowski, Writer, Director and Creator.
The film features many well-known actors including Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Cardinal, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Norm MacDonald, Marlon Wayans, Scott Thompson, and Tantoo Cardinal.
Mankowski mainly funded the project, which cost under $200,000, through his own funds – receiving some help from the Canadian Red Cross.
He ended up interviewing over 200 individuals with the film focusing more on the community and the mental health struggles rather than the wildfire.
“I wanted to show the world how a community could come together and rebuild,” added Mankowski.
“I hope this film sparks conversations everywhere about how we are all one global community, and we all need one another.”
Producing the short-movie is John Schneider, the brother of actor Rob Schneider.
He joins Mankowski in hoping the film starts a conversation.
“We all need emotional and mental support and our goal in making this film is to empower one another to be mental helpers.”
At this time, the film has no release date. It is slated to be available for free on streaming services by the fall.
Mankowski has submitted it to multiple film festivals with the hopes of it premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Work is still ongoing with the Athabasca Tribal Council to provide subtitles in Cree and Dene.