They Call Me Mom, a 45-minute documentary screening Saturday May 20th at the Premiere Cinemas in Rio Rancho, was directed by Makenzie Gruenig, who graduated this month from Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico with a BFA in media arts. During her final 2016-17 year, she received a $2,500 fellowship to put towards the movie and one other project, thanks to the Seabury Foundation and matching monies from the school.
The titular focus of They Call Me Mom is Sherry Lopez, the mom of a family Gruenig got to know through her local church. The Lopez's, after having four biological children of their own, decided to adopt six more.
Here's how the filmmaker described her project when she shared it April 27th at her school alongside the other two recipients of Seabury Foundation endowments:
"My adoption documentary has given me the opportunity to spend day after day with an extraordinary family that has more love for one another than anything I’ve ever seen in my life. But that didn’t just include the fun things. I watched kids fight, messes being made, and children with special needs struggle. My initial inspired feelings toward this courageous family just seemed to grow the more I filmed. It was a privilege to create this film.”
Gruenig will be screening a second documentary this coming Saturday titled Disappearing From Society. That one is also deeply rooted in personal experience, as it documents the struggle of her neighbor, Sarah Sanchez, with Lyme disease.
Gruenig got a nice write-up in local newspaper the Rio Rancho Observer ahead of the double feature presentation. She has her own producton company, Lemony Media, and will be interning this summery with a filmmaking company in Texas.