Ursula K. Le Guin documentary 70% funded on Kickstarter in 1 day

A documentary about science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin is headed toward funding on Kickstarter.

A documentary about science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin is headed toward funding on Kickstarter.

(Benjamin Reed / For the Times)

If the first day’s contributions are any indication, a pending documentary about legendary American science-fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin will be successfully funded on Kickstarter, and then some.

Filmmaker Arwen Curry started a Kickstarter campaign Feb. 1 to raise money for her hourlong film “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin.” As of Tuesday morning, Curry already had raised over $56,000 of her $80,000 goal.

“For the past seven years, I’ve had the tremendous honor of filming dozens of hours with Ms. Le Guin, now 86,” Curry wrote on the project’s Kickstarter page. “In the film, we’ll accompany Le Guin on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way.”


Le Guin is the author of dozens of novels, and is known for incorporating themes of feminism and environmentalism in her work. She’s best known for her novels “The Left Hand of Darkness,” “A Wizard of Earthsea” and “The Lathe of Heaven.”

The octogenarian author, who lives in Oregon, recently made news for her critique of the Oregonian’s coverage of the armed militia members who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. She also maintains a blog.

In addition to conversations with Le Guin, the documentary features interviews with other writers, including Michael Chabon and Margaret Atwood. “I think [Le Guin] is one of the greatest writers that the 20th-century American literary scene produced,” Chabon says in a video posted on the Kickstarter page. “Each world, each planet that she creates is a kind of experiment, it’s a laboratory.”

The money raised through Kickstarter will pay the film’s editor, as well as licensing archival materials and the film’s musical score. The film has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, but those funds won’t be released to the producers until they raise the film’s whole production budget.

Le Guin fans who want to back the documentary can choose from several rewards for their donations, including books autographed by the author, and a “nerd-chic” tote bag featuring a map of Earthsea, the fictional land that forms the setting of many of Le Guin’s novels and short stories.

Kickstarter has become a popular platform for television and film producers with a literary bent. In 2014, actor Griffin Dunne used Kickstarter to raise more than $220,000 for “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live,” a documentary about his aunt, Joan Didion.

The same year, LeVar Burton’s wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to bring his popular children’s show, “Reading Rainbow,” to computers and classrooms ultimately raised more than $5 million.

The “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” campaign ends March 4. Curry, who was an associate producer of a 2014 documentary about author Susan Sontag, wrote, “We’re working toward an enduring, thoughtful, and gorgeous documentary by the middle of 2017. We can succeed with your help.”