Candida Royalle Doc Kickstarter Launches

Lila Gray

VANCOUVERCanadian filmmaker Sheona McDonald recently teamed up with adult icon Candida Royalle to make a feature-length documentary biopic that frames the latter’s life in a novel way — about the search for her estranged mother.

The duo have officially launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds to launch the doc, titled “While You Were Gone: The Untold Story of Candida Royalle.” With 30 days to go, Royalle and McDonald are hoping to raise $135,000.

“Candida Royalle is a woman you think you know, with a story you’ve heard before: a porn star, turned producer, turned advocate for women’s sexual rights,” the synopsis reads. “But inside the story you know, is a woman you don’t:  Candice.”

It continues, “Abandoned by her mother at a young age and raised in unusual circumstances, she was at the heart of these big moments, cultural shifts, who chose a path not many would and then found a way to change her story, who fought for every inch of her success, who faced cancer head-on. And through all that, came to this place, this point where she's ready to tell her own story in a way we've never imagined, through the search for a mother she never knew ... but is it too late?”

“My life took place in her absence,” Royalle said, gthat “while her mother was gone,” her entire life unfolded. And now, after 60 years of separation, she’s interested in finding out about and meeting the woman who wasn’t there to see her grow and flourish. “I would like to know what happened to her in her life,” Royalle continued. “Where did she go? Why did she leave? Did she ever talk about us? Did she miss us?”

The fact that Royalle was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer a few years ago galvanized McDonald and Royalle to pursue the project with greater urgency and impetus. “Time is of the essence,” McDonald told XBIZ in an exclusive Q&A with her and Royalle.    

The film was hatched by happenstance when McDonald interviewed Royalle for her forthcoming film “Inside Her Sex” for CBC’s digital documentary channel in Canada, which began as an exploration of women and porn, but evolved to encompass the broader spectrum of the relationship between female sexuality and shame.  

Finding that many of themes present in the doc were present in Royalle’s story, she reached out to her again in January of this year in hopes of setting up future interviews for “Inside Her Sex.” After corresponding via email and phone, the two were mutually inspired by each other to pursue an entirely separate project — the story, more or less, of Royalle’s life.

Royalle and McDonald plan to film the doc throughout 2014 and begin editing late this year or early next year. Should the film get funded in full, McDonald anticipates that it will release in the summer of 2015.

While McDonald acknowledged on Kickstarter that $135,000 may seem like a lot, it is actually a bare-bones budget that will just cover the basic costs of production.

For more info, or to help fund "While Were You Gone: The Untold Stroy of Candida Royalle," click here.

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