Maidentrip: Jillian Schlesinger and Emily McCallister discuss sailing adventure, coming of age saga

The world became aware of Laura Dekker when she decided at 13 years old to sail solo around the world and the Dutch government tried to stop her. But in Maidentrip, which opens at the Sarasota Film Festival tonight, audiences will get to learn far more about the young sailor both through recordings she made on the harrowing adventure and time spent with filmmakers on dry land.

SRQ spoke with film producers Jillian Schlesinger and Emily McCallister today about the tale. “It’s a coming of age tale about her leaving on this trip and growing up in the process,” said Schlesinger, the director.

A significant portion of the film was actually recorded by Dekker herself. “She shot all the footage from sea by herself, and also did a number of audio recordings of herself,” McCallister explains.

That provides the drama of the high seas, but much of the turbulence in Dekker’s like happens in land-locked settings. The Dutch Government talked about taking Dekker out of her father’s custody when there was first discussion about her sailing around the world. Schlesinger first started following the story in 2009 and captured much of the struggles just in  launching the two-year voyage out of The Netherlands on The Guppy.

The story has received acclaim before reaching the Suncoast. It premiered at South by Southwest, where it won an audience award, and will soon head to Hot Docs.

The film is part of the this year’s YouthFest programming. The film screens today, April 8, at 7:30pm and Tuesday, April 9, at 5pm at the Regal Hollywood 20.


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