Having a baby is usually envisioned in a woman’s life as a time of joy. But after Kris Swanberg saw her ice cream business go under just before having her first child, she found herself distraught at the situation she was in. “All of the sudden, I was a stay-at-home mom, which is not something I ever intended to do,” Swanberg says.
A friend of hers, Kate Johnston, was feeling the same frustrations, having been laid off just before her second child was born. Neither liked the feeling of introducing themselves at parties not as professionals but as stay-at-home moms. “I was at home thinking I never aspired to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “It was just the next thing to do.”
But the two helped one another find a new gig by co-producing Empire Builder, the story of a young mother who flees from a life of discontentment into a rustic cabin. “The woman lives in a big city and ends up inheriting a cabin in Montana,” Swanberg describes. As the mother tries to adapt to life off the grid, she finds many of the same challenges in her old life have followed her to the woods.
Swanberg helmed the project and is debuting the film here at 5:30pm. A second screening of Empire Builder will happen Thursday at 4pm.
“It will speak to women who have had children. It’s not just about motherhood. It’s also about marriage and about a woman pining for independent and finding herself,” Swanberg says.