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Ghostbike film helps healing

July 10, 2013 - Judy Finnernen is using her grief creatively.

After her husband's death in July 2011 she enrolled in the Sedona Film School and made a documentary movie on how he was killed.

"This film is about that ghostbike, my healing process and love," she said.

Ralph Finnerson was struck while cycling on Giddings Road two years ago this July. Judy moved from Lake Orion to Sedona in August 2012 and attended film school August 19 through May 2013, initially producing the film for one of her classes. It premiered in Sedona May 25 and 26, and Judy returned to Lake Orion July 1 with plans to run it in her old community.

"Ghostbike: End Distracted Driving Now-Save Lives!" is composed of footage from both Sedona and Lake Orion documenting her process of healing: tragedy, love, hope and forgiveness. With interviews from a witness of the accident, a sheriff, a trauma/grief psychologist, her children Rori and Holli and herself, the film tells the story of what tragedy does to people, "how one thinks, feels and heals after such an event that occurs in one's life," she said.

The ghostbike also stars in the film. Ralph's old bike, painted white, was placed at the location of the accident as the 'ghostbike' when a "distracted" 28-year-old GM employee was looking in the back of his car for something and hit him. Holli and Rory flew home from D.C. to set the ghostbike up on Giddings Road.

It his memorial, and a reminder.

"The film is about increasing awareness to drivers to notice bicycles, notice vulnerable road users and drive mindfully, drive consciously," Judy said.

The 20-minute production was shown at the Sedona Film Festival and nominated for audience's choice, director and lead talent in a documentary. Judy is waiting on a reply from the Traverse City Film Festival for acceptance into the lineup, and is also submitting it to the Sedona International Film Festival in February.

She is happy to say she is expanding the film.

"It was shown three times and very well received. Audiences want more," she said. Her ultimate goal is to make it a feature length documentary, and have it used by legal authorities and cycling groups to remind drivers to remain conscious at all times while on the road. It is also an educative tool to demonstrate that healing after such a tragedy is possible. She is currently looking for a venue to show "Ghostbike" in the Lake Orion area, either in July or August.

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