Ra Paulette aim is to dig the eighth wonder of the world art caves into the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico. Each creation takes him years to complete, and each is a masterwork. But time, commitment and the stubborn inspirational imprint of the artist cut off nearly all of his projects. Fed up, Ra has chosen to forego all commissions to create his own Magnum Opus, a massive 10-year project.
With the now available short documentary CaveDigger director and producer Jeffrey Karoff filmed the visionary’s determination of Ra Paulette to carve and sculpt a stunning sandstone architecture with just a wheel-barrel, a shovel and bare hands.
In the documentary Ra Paulette confesses “Sometime I feel more an archeologist uncovering something that’s already there. But I am through working for other people; I am not the paintbrush and my client is not the painter. I have got ideas for ages that I never forgotten to try: I wanted to create a space tha’ts transformative. That’s a big goal!”
The film is one of the very few architecture documentaries to be nominated at the Academy Award® so far. Edited by Erin Nordstrom and distributed by Karoffilms, the movie’s cinematography is by Anghel Decca whilst composer Pete Min curated the soundtrack.
Jeffrey Karoff says ‘Follow your heart’ goes the common wisdom. It sounds ideal… but in Cavedigger, Ra Paulette’s not only demonstrates how to live with unshakable determination, but in baring his soul, he also exposes the truth about the toll it exacts”.
“I first saw Ra Paulette’s work in 2001 and was determined to bring it to life on film. But I wasn’t that interested in making a film about an artist’s process. It was only when I interviewed Ra’s patrons that I realized deep in the hills of Northern New Mexico, a lone man with a pickaxe was facing a universal struggle: creative expression versus funding”.
The short fil was awarded as Non-European Best Documentary at the European Independent Film Festival, Best Documentary Short at Sant Antonio Film Festival, Best Short -Audience Award- At Maui Film Festival and many more.
Jeffrey Karoff is a documentary and commercial director as well as a director of documentary fundraisers for organizations like New York’s philanthropic powerhouse, Robin Hood Foundation. Based in Venice (California), Jeffrey honed his skills at UCLA, at American Film Institute’s director’s program, and was a founder of the director/actor workshop, Paradox Works.