Back in summer 2000, a San Francisco graphic artist known professionally as Someguy sent the first batch of 1,000 blank journals out, literally, into the world.
Their curious trek is traced in an intriguing documentary by Andrea Kreuzhage, "1000 Journals," and what the title might lack in inventiveness it more than makes up for with what it reveals between those well-traveled covers. It screens this weekend at AFI Fest.
The film is destined for festival play and possible theatrical life if its release could be tied in with a traveling exhibition of some of those resourcefully filled journals.
Although the 1000 Journals Project included a Web site so that participants could place orders for copies or upload scans of their doodles, prose and other contributions to the received journals, the first copy didn't find its way back into Someguy's hands until September 2003.
The whereabouts of those other 999 journals forms the basis of Kreuzhage's film, and her quest takes her around the world, making stops in Toronto; Amsterdam; Singapore; Melbourne, Australia; Marseilles, France; and Zagreb, Croatia.
While some of the stories she discovered that accompanied the books' travels could probably fill their own journals, for the most part they end up paling in comparison to the remarkable contents of those copies that would ultimately resurface.
Crammed with everything from eye-popping, original artwork and photos to travel itineraries and souvenir tchotchkes to strands of hair and drops of blood, their pages often reflect highly personal expressions of post-Sept. 11 fears and anxieties.
And, as Kreuzhage discovers along the way, maybe the reason so many of those journals have gone AWOL might have less to do with apathy than with the difficulty their transitory owners seem to have in letting go of something tangible that connects them to the rest of the world without requiring an Internet hook-up.