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  • Jess Koehler

    Brandon Vedder, helped write, shoot and produce "La Source."

  • Jess Koehler

    It's about efforts of Josue Lajeunesse, left, to bring clean water to his Haitian village.

Auburn native's documentary brings water and hope to Haiti

Published: Friday, May. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 14TICKET

On Saturday, an Auburn son will bring his hometown an acclaimed documentary and a direct line to helping Haiti.

Placer High School graduate Brandon Vedder, 30, co-wrote, co-produced and helped shoot "La Source," which follows Princeton University janitor Josue Lajeunesse's successful bid to bring clean water to La Source, the Haitian village where Lajeunesse grew up.

"La Source" will show at 4 and 7 p.m. at the State Theatre. Vedder will appear with the film and at a fundraising party aimed at furthering clean-water efforts in Haiti.

"We didn't want to make this a social-issue film about the (global) water crisis, which just seems so huge and overwhelming," Vedder said by phone from Los Angeles, where he now lives. "We wanted to focus on telling the story of this one man and this one village. … It is much more inspiring to people because they see how possible it is."

"La Source" has played film festivals as well as in New York and Los Angeles theaters.

"Some documentaries just make you feel good about the world and the people in it," Kenneth Turan wrote in his Los Angeles Times review, "and 'La Source' is definitely one of those."

Directed by Patrick Shen and narrated by actor Don Cheadle, "La Source" is a calling card for the filmmakers' clean-water campaign undertaken with Generosity Water, a nonprofit group that builds water systems.

Though the La Source project is complete, Haiti – plagued by contaminated water even before its 2010 earthquake and cholera outbreak – remains in desperate need of clean water.

The Auburn screenings compose part of an "Auburn-to-Haiti" drive aimed at generating $6,500 to build a well in Redoute, Haiti.

"It is one community supporting another" Vedder said.

Auburn already has come out to help, thanks to advance women Denise Cardona and Bobbi Jo Forsyth – Vedder's mother and mother-in-law. The Auburn Rotary Club kicked in an early donation, and Community 1st Bank underwrote screening costs.

During his trip home this week, Vedder will, among other appearances, speak at his hometown church, Sierra Grace Fellowship, and address about 200 Placer High students.

"Bobbi Jo set up a press tour," Vedder said with a laugh about his mother-in-law. (Vedder met his wife, Alex, in Auburn.)

"I know how important it is for alumni to return to campus – it is really inspiring for students," said Forsyth, a career adviser at Colfax High School.

Vedder said he hopes to inspire Placer High students to support clean-water efforts in the same way Princeton University students supported their favorite custodian's project. Students put on a concert and other events to raise funds for Lajeunesse's La Source system.

Before "La Source," Vedder shot concert documentaries and music videos. Family members – including extended family – have backed him throughout his career.

Vedder's cousin, Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, kick-started his young relative's career in 2003 by bringing him aboard to shoot Pearl Jam shows.

Though Eddie Vedder introduced him to the crew, "after that, I was on my own," Brandon Vedder said. "It was me being on the front lines, three hours a night. … I used the energy of that live shoot to fuel what I was going to become as a filmmaker."

Brandon Vedder took some inspiration from his socially conscious cousin in using art as an activism tool.

"On tour, he would spend hours every day going through newspapers so he could educate himself," Brandon Vedder said of Eddie Vedder. "I definitely saw the power you can have when you have (a platform)."


When:4 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Party/fundraiser, 8:30 p.m.

Where: State Theatre, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn

Cost:$8; $5 students

Tickets and information:

Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.

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