You may remember a film from last year’s The Big Tell called: Literacy Empowers. It’s the amazing story of the adult literacy program at Mariposa County Library and the incredible impact that the program has on its participants. Karen Dusek, Senior Library Assistant, applied for the grant last year and enlisted Mariposa filmmaker Rebecca Adams to help create the film which premiered at The Big Tell Showcase in October 2017.

Filmmakers Rebecca Adams, left, and Karen Dusek
under the marquee announcing The Big Tell Showcase 2017

With the grant money awarded for Literacy Empowers, Karen and Rebecca purchased film equipment which they now use to teach filmmaking classes at the library.

This year, Karen is striking out on her own and, at age 66, is screening her very first film, Just Stuff.

In this film, Karen shares the story of Mariposa artist Dennis Bright, whose home was one of the 63 lost in the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County in 2017. Karen has known Dennis for several years. She has admired his work as an artist as well as his lifestyle of “living lightly on the land” and his service to the community. Most people in Mariposa know Dennis if not by name, then by his trademark cowboy hat and gray ponytail. He lost everything in the fire and has spent the last 15 months trying to rebuild his life.

Fresno Bee photo of the Detwiler Fire

Karen’s love of storytelling comes from her background in journalism. She says that whenever she hears a good story, she wants to write it down in order to capture it and share it with others. Although she took (and loved!) a script writing class in graduate school in the 1980s, she never pursued film as a storytelling medium until last year.

Participating in The Big Tell has helped her learn a lot about sharing stories as well as the technical aspects of filmmaking. She appreciates the opportunity to explore new creative outlets, particularly those that combine her many interests including writing and the joys of living in a small community surrounded by the natural beauty of the foothills.

It is Karen’s hope that this film helps people remember that even though media coverage of a disaster has moved on, the lives of victims have been changed forever, and they may still need a helping hand, a kind word, or someone to listen.

Enjoy the premiere of “Just Stuff” at The Big Tell Showcase on Friday, October 19 at 7 pm at the Tower Theatre in Fresno.

The Big Tell, presented by Bank of America, is a regional filmmaking initiative for ten Central Valley filmmakers creating 5-minute mini-documentaries about incredible people, places, and events in the Central Valley.

All ten films will be screened at The Big Tell Showcase: Walk the red carpet starting at 6:00 pm before the show at 7:00 pm. For more information and to reserve a seat for this free, all-ages show, visit