Backpacks and a suitcase bulging with books — That’s all Alaska filmmaker Mary Katzke and her son, Corin Katzke, took when they sold everything and left Anchorage on a one-way trip to Ireland in 2010. They continued to travel across three continents with no set itinerary for what was then Corin’s entire fifth grade school year.
Photographs from the Katzkes’ yearlong adventure will be on display at the “World School” exhibit at Hugi-Lewis Studios throughout the month. The accompanying “World School” documentary film will screen 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at Bear Tooth Theatre Pub.
Mary Katzke said a family tragedy and her desire to savor Corin’s childhood were the reasons behind her decision to spend that year together overseas.
“It’s life-changing, and I can’t recommend it highly enough — to break away out of the box and to free yourself of that daily grind,” she said about the experience. “It gives you a place in the world.”
At first, UAA student and parent Yvonne Pasqual said she wouldn’t be brave enough to do what Katzke did. However she changed her mind when she heard of the “rich stories” Katzke and Corin shared in “World School.”
“You shouldn’t limit yourself. I would do it if I had the means to,” Pasqual said.
The Katzkes traveled to 29 countries sprawled across Europe, Africa and Asia. Corin, in conjunction with homeschooling, was able to visit six schools in six different countries.
Corin recalled learning how to make waffles in Iceland, taking dance lessons in Thailand and playing soccer with children in Scotland.
He also recalled how he and his mother used various types of transportation, such as a Segway, hydrofoil and camel.
“She (Mary Katzke) has a well-known name as a professional filmmaker. She is known to put together good quality work,” said D.K. Johnston, who runs the website www.alaskafilmakers.com.
Johnston had Mary visit his documentary film production class at UAA last spring. He first became familiar with her work while collaborating with her and other filmmakers on the documentary “Day in Our Bay.”
He said several people eagerly anticipate “World School.”
Katzke is the director and producer of Affinityfilms, Inc., which is a nonprofit educational media organization based in Anchorage. She has several works under her belt, including “Sea of Oil” and “Survive and Thrive.”
Katzke said Vanessa Cochran, a frequent collaborator on Affinityfilms’ productions, wrote and edited “World School.” Cochran has worked with heavy hitters, such as Diane Sawyer and Tom Brokaw. Josh Sulfano, a musician from Los Angeles, composed the musical score.
The Katzkes will attend the film screening for questions and answers. A preview of the film, “World School” can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC10m0CieQ8.
Pictures can also be found on the “World School” Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/worldschoolfilm.
Admission to the “World School” photo exhibit is free of charge. Tickets for the screening of the “World School” film at the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub are currently available for purchase.