NOTE: This article was originally written in and translated from Esperanto.
In August of 2010 Mar Cardenas received a message of introduction from Christopher R. Mihm of Minnesota, independent creator of horror and science fiction films. He sent his web site, which presented his main films:
"The Monster of Phantom Lake" (La Monstro de Fantom-Lago)
"It Came From Another World!" (Veninta de alia Mondo)
"Cave Women on Mars" (Kavernulinoj en Marso)
"Terror from Beneath the Earth" (Teruro el sub la Tero)
"Destination: Outer Space" (Sendita en la Kosmon), kaj lian nunan filmon, kiu nomigxas
"Attack of the Moon Zombies" (Atako de la Lunaj Zombioj [zombio = revivigita kadavro])
He had two modest demands:
Would we please check his translation of "Peace through Science", which appears in the emblem of the uniforms for the film.
Secondly, would we agree to translate the whole film into Esperanto? He would like to add an Esperanto soundtrack to the new film. Since the costs of the film are paid by the fans of the films, he could pay us only with the joy of collaboration and the hope that our collaboration will win favorable notoriety for his group and for Esperanto.
To both demands Mar responded slightly without hesitation.
"When I answered yes to Chris' first email, I had no idea that anyone would help me! One could call it a leap of faith."
The films of Christopher R. Mihm are in the style of the 1950's, using the techniques and the views of that time. His current film takes place on an international moon base in the distant future. In fact 1976, in the optimistic viewpoint of 1950 something. And optimists of that period would naturally assume that one would use the international language of peace for collaboration. Because of this, he got the idea of using Esperanto in the uniforms and sets.
So, he sent to Mar a manuscript of 60 pages and 800 lines of dialogue. Through her message board "Grupo Amikema" she started a call for collaborators. A few responded to correct the emblem, somewhat fewer to do the translation work. Mar recounts,
"A few Esperantists offered help and I sent them a page of text to translate, but I never got back from them a translated text.
Sometimes I was troubled by the thought of future criticism about translation errors coming from those help I requested without receiving any. However, I kept working."
To be sure, translation requires work and time, and one can start with the best of intentions, but later hesitate at the challenge.
However, even with uncertain steps the work moved forward. With every resignation came another volunteer. We all received our texts and sent the work back to Mar.
"Luckily a few good-hearted Esperantists strongly supported the translation project. George Baker proof-read everyone's work and I put everything together into a translated document for Chris."
Mar even wrote a guide to pronounce Esperanto, and made recordings of her voice as an example of Esperanto speaking. It was in December that we sent everything to the director and sighed with content.
Surprisingly in the middle of February we got the request that we voice-act for the Esperanto soundtrack. It seemed that there wasn't enough time to train the actors to pronounce Esperanto. He needed to record everything by the beginning of April so as to press the DVD's. Could we help?
Mar and I discussed it, and since she does not have a big Esperanto group in San Diego, I assumed that the work of dubbing should be based in San Francisco. It never occurred to me to say "no", and I never doubted her tireless support.
"When George became interested in the recording of the texts I thought he had gone mad. Where would he find so many voice actors? In my view the task is much harder than simply translating texts!
Yet he succeeded! He not only found voice actors, but now the project is well-known in the Esperanto community, and many of our colleagues are really looking forward to sseing the film when it is finally publicized!"
Of course, the success is not mine, but of those who tirelessly helped me. For every need someone appeared at the right time to fill it. If any one of us had not done his task we may not have succeeded in the time available. It was the good-heartedness and dedication of all, that created the result.
Our main voice actors are Duncan Charters, Miko Sloper, Jennifer Bondelid, and Mar Cardenas, who shouldered the most challenging roles each with 130 to 200 lines. Also notable is Max Varazslo, who created in Esperanto a Kentucky accent for the eccentric pilot in the film.
Other voice actors are Enrique Ellemberg, Stephen Schwichow, George Baker, Lucille Harmon, Gregory Tseytin, Derek Roff, David Rutan, Yumiko Fujii, Masaaki Tahara, and Brandon Sowers.
Translations were by George Baker, Mar Cardenas, David Rutan, Andrea Monticue. Editing the Esperanto recordings was by George Baker and Enrique Ellemberg.
Great thanks is due to Enrique Ellemberg, who researched and clearly described means and methods for recording and editing the sound files. Even those of us with no experience in such work were able to succeed in our roles. Our work went forward despite the fact that we were in different regions, even countries, and did not have a common time to work as a group.
In the words of Mar, "I am completely surprised by our beautiful project, by the high number of dedicated people who contributed to it. I sincerely thank all who continuously supported the project!"
So, "Attack of the Moon Zombies" is finished and sent for publication. In Minneapolis, Minnesota they are preparing for the gala world premier of the film on May 25. Because of the unpaid work of many generally normal people was born a new retro science fiction film to stand beside the classic films of the 1950's, such as "The Thing" and "Attack of the Crab Monsters".
What should we think about the films of Chris Mihm and the array of actors, workers, financial contributors, admirers, and now esperantists, who work without payment to create something joyous, amusing, even beautiful with their own hands, minds and hearts? Could one say that the message of Mihm's films is that hope and optimism are not old-fashioned; that pure-hearted work makes life beautiful; that nonsense that makes one happy is perhaps the deepest wisdom?