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July 14, 2014

Renner finding a way to survive trauma

Pendleton filmmakers raise money on Kickstarter for documentary

PENDLETON — The only way Luke Renner felt he could take back control of his life was to make a documentary about overcoming pain.

In late 2013, he made the silent decision to make a film about surviving traumatic events.

“The initial intention was: this is going to be my art therapy,” Renner said. “I’m going to be working on me vis-à-vis this film. The second objective would be that others benefit from my journey.”

That journey started when Renner was in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Although he and his family were fine, Renner traveled to Port-au-Prince to film the aftermath.

The images of death and devastation have haunted Renner in the years since, and he decided documenting trauma’s effects would be the best way to gain some of his power back.

Renner, who co-owns The Story Shop in Pendleton, got to work on raising money and finding subjects for his documentary, which as of right now is called “Surviving Trauma.”

Renner and his fellow filmmakers wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter on Friday to help them travel around the country to interview trauma experts. The original goal was for $25,000, but thanks to donations, the group raised more than $28,000.

Before the Kickstarter campaign, they’d already interviewed three people in Indiana who experienced trauma: a car crash survivor, a sexual abuse survivor and Holocaust and Mengele twin survivor Eva Mozes Kor.

“Trauma completely debases who we are and the way we relate to the world and other people,” Kor says in the movie’s Kickstarter trailer.

Renner said he and his film crew have already made contact with therapists and psychiatrist from around the country, including Peter A. Levine, who wrote a book that helped Renner overcome some of the psychological effects he’s experienced.

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