Fort Wayne filmmaker Terry Doran's favorite image in his new documentary is of two guys in a canoe, floating on the Maumee River.
Rather than an idyllic scene of them communing with nature, they're staring down with a garbage can and two tires in the canoe between them — trash they pulled from the river or its banks.
From its title to the stories told within it, Doran's 30-minute documentary "Anne Frank and the River Traveler" is a study in contrasts. The worst of human nature dumps trash and pollution in the river, Doran said. The best of human nature inspires people to try to save our streams.
"They are like Paul Revere, in a sense," he said of the river advocates who are the focus of his film. "You can't treat these rivers like toilets."
Doran will hold the film's premiere screening at noon Wednesday in the Law School Courtroom at Indiana Tech on East Washington Boulevard.
The film follows a group of people organized by the Save Maumee Grassroots Organization, who in April 2014 paddled in canoes on a nine-day, 141-mile voyage from southwest Fort Wayne to the Maumee River and down the Maumee to Lake Erie at Toledo.
Doran followed them on land, capturing the paddlers on the water and at their nightly stops to camp overnight. A support team in vehicles followed the river travelers to transport camping gear, food and other items to each night's overnight stop.
The film's title comes from one of the river travelers, who, during their overnight stop at Grand Rapids, Ohio, told Doran the story of his experience at a Catholic military boarding school on the edge of town.
He was sent there by his parents for his eighth-grade year in hopes the school would make him more enthusiastic about his Catholic faith, Doran said. The man said he hated it.
"The two things that inspired him to make it through: He read Anne Frank's diary. He was (age) 13, and she was 13 when she started writing her diary," Doran said. "And going down and looking over the Maumee River."
During the more than a week he spent with the travelers, Doran said he was inspired by their camaraderie and sense of community. He tried to capture that in his film.
He also was surprised by the amount of trash they found along their route. When Doran asked one young paddler his impressions of the trip at the end of the journey, the young man said, "An abundance of trash."
Doran said he biggest challenges in making the documentary included weaving the Anne Frank and river travelers' stories into one film and editing down hours and hours of video footage to what will hold people's interest. In addition to his own video, he also used footage shot by former News-Sentinel reporter/photographer Ellie Bogue, Erik Mollberg, Justinian Dispenza and Tim Zink.
Doran hopes people leave the film inspired.
"If these people can do it, ... I can do something," he said of the film's message. "I can make a difference."
He also hopes filmgoers face the fact that dirty and polluted water result from human nature.
"We are all susceptible to greed, corruption, turning the other way because it's easier to do that," he said. "You mess with water, you are messing with the survival of the race."
WHAT: Local filmmaker Terry Doran will show his new, 30-minute documentary "Anne Frank and the River Traveler."
WHEN: Noon Wednesday
WHERE: Law School Courtroom, Indiana Tech, 1600 E. Washington Blvd.