Acclaimed local director Peter McGennis Jr is premiering his latest film – the third in a Buffalo trilogy – this Saturday at North Park Theatre. The film Bubble Girl is a hybrid fiction and real life film, inspired by a number of real life stories. But ultimately it is a story that we can all relate to on a number of levels. First and foremost, most of us have met a sick child along our journey, who has managed to inspire us and raise our spirits, due to a certain hope and courage that is found within all children. In Bubble Girl, McGennis has aligned our young hero with a plushie sidekick – the two set out to combat cancer, with many of the battles taking place at Buffalo landmarks. If you’re looking for an inspirational wild cinematic ride over the weekend, let McGennis take you on a journey that will forever alter the way you look at young people, and the city of Buffalo.
“First taking flight in 2012, the filming spanned over six years of filming, all here in Buffalo, following the same young cast as they fight to overcome illness with the help of an imaginary friend,” said McGennis. “Bubble Girl is about the healing power of the imagination. I feel that in my previous, locally produced feature films (Buffalo Bushido, Queen City) I got underneath our community unearthing metaphors and spirit. It was time to tell a Buffalo story from above and fly (literally and figuratively) into the future with our children. We shot most of our film at Roswell Cancer Institute, and Millard Gates Circle before its demolition. Bubble Girl is dedicated to my longtime friend Sharon Jones who worked again with me on my original soundtrack but sadly passed away from cancer during the filming. I am proud that our film will honor Sharon’s legacy in addition to my dear friend Lance Diamond who appears on screen, and all the kids at Carly’s Club who participated in this film about hope. I have been looking to bring a serviceable component to my work and now feel that I’ve come full circle from concept through the production process and beyond.”
McGennis told me that it was raising his own children that allowed him to properly navigate the storytelling channels for this film. He also said that the film paints a story of Buffalo looking forward. When he shot his first film – Buffalo Bushido in 2004 – Buffalo was a bit backwards when it came to the film industry. In fact, his was the only film shot in Buffalo that year. Today, the film landscape is very welcoming, and there are more and more films being produced here. While the trilogy of films is unrelated, they are all threaded together by the city that McGennis loves… and the city that has loved him back. “Buffalo has come to help me understand the possibilities,” he told me. “It’s like a compass – you have such a great grounding here.”
“The motivation to make a children’s film had been inside me for many years,” said McGennis, when asked about the inspiration behind his latest work. “It took the gift of being a parent to our daughter for me to discover Bubble Girl and recognize how a story can extend beyond the work itself and be passed on to bring light and hope to others. The growth in a young person from the ages of 10yr-17yr are light years. I’m so proud of the kids who participated over the years from our lead actors to the kids at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. To have taken this journey with my daughter and everyone who participated has been a gift of a lifetime and has filled my heart. And now it is time for Bubble Girl to fly… to lift hope and hearts and find new homes and hospital beds. Love and imagination are needed now more than ever. Bubble Girl reminds us of the importance of listening to our children and that sometimes the best medicine is left to the imagination… Gotta’ getcha’ bubblation creation on!”
When asked about premiering the film at the North Park Theatre, McGennis said, “It’s important to have a community moment, and North Park Theatre is like my Record Theatre or my Tralf – this is where I learned. These are the places where my mentors are. They evoke the memories and tap into the spirits. When you see Lance on screen… these are my people, these are my streets, this is what I know. I know the rhythm. I know where the sun hits a building in January – these films are like tattoos and spiritual milestones between me and Buffalo.”
Film: Bubble Girl premieres @ North Park Theatre
Saturday, June 8, 2018
North Park Theatre | 1428 Hertel Avenue | Buffalo, New York 14216