I sat down the producer Amy Nelson and director Uga Carlini (Spier Films) to discuss their documentary project ‘Alison’. Alison’s story is one that has gripped a nation for 20 years, and the details of her rape and attempted murder at the hands of two young men is as fresh in my mind as the first time I read about it was when I was seven years old. Some will argue that the details of her assault are not reading fodder for children, but my mother wanted me to understand what humans are capable of. No, not just that they can rape and mutilate, but more importantly that people can survive and go on to live lives that are not defined by their pasts. And this is at the heart of Amy and Uga’s project. Everyday triumphs are worth celebrating, too.
“In 1999 I heard her speak for the first time, then I read her book, and I knew that this was the story I wanted to tell,” declares Uga. Despite numerous offers, Alison declined to give the rights of her story away. Fast-forward until two years ago, and the pieces fell into place. Alison gave the rights to Uga after developing a friendship defined by loyalty. “Her story is one of hope, recovery, and a little bit of magic,” says Amy. Unfortunately, many people think they know Alison’s story because they’ve read the book, but that is just a small part of it, and the filmmakers will present her story in its entirety.
Amy and Uga’s enthusiasm for their project is infectious, as is their plan for the film to open up channels of communication and a platform for people to come forward with their own stories of everyday heroism; anonymously if they wish. Amy and Uga stress that the stories do not have to centre on a traumatic event, but that every story deserves to be celebrated. “We are bombarded with expectations of greatness and perfection, but people need to understand that just being is ok. Alison is an example of someone who is being the change she would like to see, as heroism starts at home. It’s fascinating that Alison is raising two boys; she is literally raising the change that the world needs.”
“Be the hero of your own story,” says Uga.