BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — TOPSFIELD — Topsfield native Kori Feener, a documentary filmmaker, will debut her film “Hard Way Home,” chronicling her attempt to “thru-hike” the Appalachian Trail, on Friday at the Virginia Film Festival.
The 87-minute movie about her solo, 2,180-mile hike from Georgia to Maine was financed through a campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, where she raised $7,000 for the project. Along the way, she filmed the documentary herself.
“I met tons of people on the way,” Feener said of her six-month hike from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
It is more than a hiking movie, however; it’s really a film about self-discovery.
“The film is really about my attempt to find human connection and let go of some connections from the past,” said Feener, 29.
A 2002 Masconomet Regional High graduate, Feener studied film at the University of Tampa, Fla., and now teaches media arts at the private Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick. She earned a master of fine arts degree from Emerson College this year.
Feener started the hike on March 16, 2012, and finished on Sept. 4. There were stretches of the trail where she was alone, but she often found herself hiking with someone else.
At the beginning of August, while in Vermont, she had to come home for a week after getting trench foot, caused by prolonged exposure to the cold and damp. She finished the hike after recuperating.
Feener is also known locally for her 2007 documentary “Where There is a Will.” It portrays the emotional and financial struggles of the Killelea family of Middleton after their son, Patrick, fell in 2006 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. A fundraising event during the film’s premiere raised about $15,000 to help cover the family’s expenses.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.