With the help of amateur actors, volunteer labour for the construction of props, and a half million dollars of “investors in heritage” partners, Dueck produced the critically acclaimed documentary in 1983, which aired in North America and Europe, primetime, Discovery channel, and on more than 100 public broadcasting stations. It is distributed around the world both in German and English by the Mennonite Media Society. It won awards at both the Toronto and Chicago film festivals, received the Dove award in Hollywood in 1984, and continues to be used for educational purposes.
“I’m honoured that the doctorate is coming from Providence College, which offers a communications and media degree program,” said Dueck, whose wife Toni was a driving force behind his success. “Because media is such a powerful influence in our society, we as Christians should employ it more vigorously in sharing our message of hope and salvation.”
Victor Davies, the composer of the Mennonite Piano Concerto that was used as music for the film, has said, “Not only did David’s vision guide the creation of this film, he had to bring the financial and creative resources together to produce it and to distribute it to the community for it to be a living document for discussion. These three aspects, the conception and production, raising financial resources to make it, and taking the film to the community, were all Herculean tasks.”
Dueck is an alumnus of Winkler Bible Institute, where his interest in still photography sparked an interest in film. After college, he began freelancing for TV stations in both Winnipeg and Brandon. Following the production of several National Film Board TV spots and commercials, he was approached to produce Mennonite historical films. Two of his earliest films on the subject were Menno’s Reins and Home for the Homeless. The latter was produced in 1980 and was well received by the Mennonite community. The film retold the story of Mennonites who settled in Paraguay during the 1930s. It proved to be a catalyst for Dueck’s next production.
Dueck currently lives with his wife Toni in Winnipeg, where he served in the past as moderator of North Kildonan MB Church.