Gary Jobson’s Documentary Film To Be Screened at Annapolis Film Festival

See Jobson’s New Sailing Documentary “Unfurling the World” April 6

If seeing film producer Gary Jobson’s latest documentary project, “Unfurling the World,” about Irving and Electra Johnson’s exotic sailing voyages isn’t enough to draw you to the Annapolis Film Festival on April 6, you should know that Gary will be there, too, for a Q&A afterward!

“It was quite a complicated project, as all the footage was sitting at the Mystic Seaport Museum for ages… It took a year to digitize all this old 8-mm and 16-mm footage and still images.”

sailing documentary old image
Electra and Irving Johnson on their sailing vessel Yankee.

Between 1933 and 1956, the Johnsons sailed with young, inexperienced sailors aboard two schooners, both named Yankee. Each time they set sail, they witnessed new and remote places that few people had visited. Jobson narrates the original footage shot by Captain Johnson and the Yankee crew, which is archived at Mystic Seaport.

In exclusive interviews crew members share their memories of the voyages around the world. The travels took the Johnsons and crew to Easter Island and Bali where they met intriguing inhabitants and experienced true maritime history when they raised the anchor of the HMS Bounty on the Pitcairn Islands.

Jobson says, “Electra had these wonderful logs, but in this unique script, I had to learn how to read it! There were seven voyages. (In the film) I spend about seven or eight minutes on each voyage and interview some of the kids who were on the trips—who are now in their 70s and 80s.” 

yankee sailboat 1930s
One of the Johnsons' sailing vessels named Yankee. Photos courtesy of Annapolis Film Festival

“It was so much fun,” he says. “All of these people going back in time. One woman named Julia Nichols (who was in her 80s when interviewed) had done the fifth voyage. When I asked her which was the most interesting place, she said ‘Bali. I fell in love with the lead dancer in the temple.’”

Two years later, the dancer showed up in Boston. Admitting that the romance was not as beautiful in Boston as it had been in Bali, she asked, “You’re not going to put this in the film, are you?” Jobson told her he would, and she laughed. 

Jobson says, “The footage that was shot on these trips is remarkable. Irving and Electra had some sort of agreement with National Geographic, and they would go around the country to do lectures and recruit kids ages 16-24 to do another trip. Through all of their research and notes, I couldn’t find how much they’d charge these kids for a year and a half of voyages. It had to have been very expensive.”

After the “Unfurling the World” (77 minutes) screening on April 6 at noon, film goers may stay for a 20-minute Q&A with Jobson. Among the many ways he gives back to our community, he chairs the board of the Annapolis Film Festival. Learn more and buy tickets at skip to the Sailing Showcase page here.