“No is not a part of my vocabulary. So being bold is whenever someone tells you no, then I’m going to find a way to do it.” ~ Michele Westmorland
My guest today is Michele Westmorland. I’ve known Michele for years, mainly as a professional underwater photographer but also as someone who has spent (and continues to spend) a lot of time in Papua New Guinea. In her spare time (ha ha) Michele’s been working on a passion project for the past 15 years that I kinda knew about but really understood the scope of it once we sat down to chat.
Michele is the director of a new documentary film called Headhunt Revisted: With Brush, Canvas and Camera. It traces the story of an American woman, Caroline Mytinger, who spent four years in the 1920s in Melanesia, specifically the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Caroline was a portrait artist who captured her subjects in oil and canvas. She also wrote a couple of books, which is how Michele initially was introduced to Caroline.
Michele was so taken by this story that she felt compelled to document Caroline’s life and her portraits in this film.
It would have taken a tremendous amount of guts to travel to this region in the 20s, especially as a woman. And Michele obviously has that same amount of tenacity to have pursued this project for 15 years.
We talk about that tenacity that brought her to this point of releasing the film (finally) and what it took to get it completed. Although I’ve known for a long time about Michele’s work on this documentary, I really got excited to see it (I still haven’t) when I read her press materials and then had this conversation with her.
She’s got some upcoming early showings in mid- to-late October and early November (links below). So if you’re as intrigued by this conversation with Michele or by the story of Caroline Mytinger, you’ll want to check it out.
Until then, enjoy this conversation with Michele Westmorland.
Connect with Michele
Mentioned in this episode
Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology
La Femme Film Festival
Friday Harbor Film Festival
Hawaii Film Festival
Documentary Educational Resources
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (Amazon)
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