Friday, October 28, 2011
Armenian Adoption- Former Fresnan Wins Humanitarian Award for Children's Transplant Foundation of Armenia
Way to Go Valerie (Boolootian) McCaffrey
Roosevelt High School graduate Valerie McCaffrey has been given The Armenian American Network Humanitarian Award for her work in the World Children's Transplant Fund Armenia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of pediatric transplantation.
The award came just a few weeks after the producer/filmmaker completed shooting her latest movie, "Lost & Found in Armenia," that was filmed almost entirely in Armenia.
Both the work for the Transplant Fund and shooting the movie have given McCaffrey the opportunity to visit Armenia multiple times. McCaffrey, whose maiden name is Boolootian, turned down other jobs because she was determined to shoot a movie in Armenia as a way of bringing attention to the country and spark more interest in the arts there.
"I'm Armenian and I don't see enough Armenians in the arts," she says. "The Armenian community loves when their children grow up to be doctors or lawyers and all that stuff. I would love to see more opportunities for the Armenian community to get more involved in the media and the arts.
"They talk about the genocide but they are not doing anything to tell the story of it. That's how you communicate ideas to the masses. We are talented people so we need to use that."
Valerie McCaffrey was awarded The Armenian American Network Humanitarian Award.
McCaffrey got a first-hand look at the Armenian people while shooting the movie, which stars Jamie Kennedy and Angela Sarafyan. Most of it was filmed in remote areas of the country where no movie has ever been shot. She was impressed with the generosity the Armenian people showed.
"They had never seen anything like a film crew in their entire life," McCaffrey says. "These people, who I wish I could cast every single one of them because of their character faces, would just sit and watch us work. One villager told me that it was boring after we left."
The locals embraced cast and crew. McCaffrey was always amazed how families – who appeared to have nothing – would put out a spread of food and candy when any member of the cast or crew would visit their homes.
She loves that she got to pay respect to her heritage while creating a product she suspects will bring a lot of attention to the country.
McCaffrey – who graduated from California State University, Long Beach – understands the power of the arts. She has worked in TV and film since 1988 on projects such as "The Gong Show," "Babe," "Hard Candy," "American History X," "Dark City" and "Problem Child."
She currently is putting the finishing touches on a documentary about cancer treatment that she hopes will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival. She also is getting ready to start the feature film "Pure Life."
McCaffrey hasn't forgotten her Fresno roots. When she's not busy with a new film or humanitarian project, she tries to get back home to visit family and friends. And, she would like to film a production here.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.