14.5 million people in the United States can call themselves cancer survivors. However, as many discover, cancer and its treatment creates challenges beyond mere survival. This award-winning documentary examines how one small group of cancer survivors is facing these challenges with the courage and ferocity of an immortal creature. Awaken the Dragon is a moving and inspiring ride that leaves viewers wondering if they too have the power to awaken the dragon within.
THE STORY BEHIND THE DRAGON
In May of 2004, Liz Oakley was looking for the subject of her next documentary. It had to be interesting, visual and have the potential to change lives. No short order. “I heard about this program for cancer survivors that sounded a little bizarre.
Apparently, cancer survivors were paddling boats of ancient chinese ancestry on a river banked by old southern plantations in my home of Charleston, SC. That certainly got my attention.” The day Oakley attended a team practice was transformative. “It wasn’t about cancer. It was about people coming together to move this boat up the river. And at the same time, it was all about the same shared experience of cancer.
“They were creating a space where it was ok to talk about it…laugh about it.” Oakley and her crew discovered the team was preparing for their first international competition in Victoria, BC. “We bought cameras and jumped on a plane.”
Seven dragon boat festivals later (competitions) the fledgling team from the south is heading for the US National Dragon Boat Championships. The film follows the story of seven team members as they navigate the waters of survivorship. Nail-biting competition, intimate revelations and a sport that is a feast for the senses propel this life-affirming film.
MEET THE DIRECTOR
“I walked down a dock and into a new way of being. That sounds rather dramatic doesn’t it? But it’s true. I knew the moment I met Margaret Logan how I would spend the next years of my life. I knew immediately that I needed to tell her story and that of the other cancer survivors who make up Dragon Boat Charleston.”