Three filmmakers, a visionary, and her dog. Just another day in Medjugorje.
Sean and Jessi both love coffee. Cimela prefers tea.
When in Medjugorje, the filmmakers often turn to local videographer, Mario, for his talents if they need another cameraman. He helped film some of Apparition Hill.
Sean and Cimela interviewed the always-interesting, always-sassy Fr. Leon.
Apparition Hill was shown at a special screening event for the La Costa Film Festival in Carlsbad, California.
Mark and Jill went with the filmmakers to southern California to speak at screenings of Apparition Hill. The group took some time to explore and ended up at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Note: Things aren't always as they seem.
It was amazing to journey with the creative director at Disney, David Pacheco, and see him experience the joy of Medjugorje! He was laughing that he crossed the Atlantic to take a break from Mickey Mouse and upon arriving finds out our guide's name is Miki Musa.
The filmmakers traveled to Omaha to promote the film and speak at screenings there.
John Bloomfield pushed his buddy Darryl through Two Hearts Hotel on the last day of Darryl's second trip to Medjugorje. As a result of Darryl's involvement in the film, many of Darryl's family members have now been to
When most of the group returned to Medjugorje for the Apparition Hill European premiere, they were finally able to meet Darryl in person. Matt, Pete, and Darryl became fast friends because they all had the same sense of humor.
Here is Rich with most of his children. They were very supportive of Rich throughout his Apparition Hill experience. They even agreed to dance for the music video shown at the end of the film.
Some of the first footage shot for the film was this interview with Mark in his home near Chicago.
Sean and Cimela got to go for a ride-along with Mark in his police cruiser. They had to sign waivers in case one of them got shot.
Here's Mark just doing his job protecting the citizens of North Aurora.
Sean took this photo of the girls on the way to capture some of the last footage shot for Apparition Hill.
Things got chilly when the filmmakers traveled to Chicago to interview Ryan. Born and raised in the Midwest, Jessi was used to the cold. Sean was eager to get home to Florida.
Cimela met up with Senia in Skokie, Illinois for a screening. Senia is Croatian and has been incredibly supportive of Apparition Hill, even helping translate a few scenes for the film.
Cimela and Jessi met Doris at the Cincinnati premiere. She approached them after the screening to tell them how much she loved the movie. She watches hundreds of movies a year as an Academy Award voting member since 1998. She didn't imagine she would stay to watch the film because she was only there for Pat and Jessica, whom the screening was honoring, but the movie hooked her and she stayed. Her friends passed away a little over a year ago. The film really helped her feel their presence tonight and she shared many beautiful stories about them with us.
This was Jill's first time to see the film, and she was so excited to share it with her family. After seeing the film, Jill said that she enjoyed watching everyone else's experience of Medjogorje.
Filmmakers Jessi and Cimela visited the waterfalls with Cimela's sister, Melissa. Melissa was inspired to visit Medjugorje after hearing her sister's stories.
Jessi went to visit Cimela at her hometown of Houston, Texas. They began working post production for the movie, but they also ate a lot of chips and queso.
Cimela and Darryl
Matt and Pete often climbed Cross Mountain barefoot. This time they did it in the dark! This picture was taken shortly after the scene from the film where the cast was interviewed on top of Cross Mountain.
A monastery near Medjugorje honors the death of thirty Franciscan friars. They were martyred by communists in this very cave. Our group shared some interesting thoughts about dying for your beliefs.
This is Miki! He is our guide and one heck of a storyteller. Bring him a guitar and he will sing to you! One of our favorites is his cover of "Englishman in New York."
Cinematographer Cimela Kidonakis with all her equipment that she traveled with to Medjugorje to film Apparition Hill. Cimela adds, "Special thanks to my sister, Melissa, for staying up to help me pack everything and make sure I had room for clothes."
Here is our group relaxing on the grass behind St. James church. This picture was taken shortly after our group arrived in Medjugorje. It was interesting hearing their first impressions. Rich shared with us that this day was the anniversary of his wedding.
Director Sean Bloomfield with Ben, Darryl and Darryl's mother.
This man owns a restaurant on a river near Medjugorje. You may remember it from the scene in Apparition Hill when the group gathered for Rich's birthday!
Cheers to Croatian food!
After watching the film, Cimela's mother was inspired to visit Medjugorje. She came in November when Pete and Matt first returned. Cimela originally captioned this photo: "Mother made it! She loves it and getting to meet Matt and Pete from the documentary Apparition Hill. She's been following their stories since day one."
We always filmed far more than we needed to. For example, here is Director Sean Bloomfield filming in Mostar for a scene that never made it into the final film.
Jessi first knew she wanted to be a filmmaker when she saw Pirates Of The Carribbean and then proceeded to watch all directors commentary and behind the scenes. She was 12 years old.
Filmmakers Cimela and Jessi prepared to camp out for Mirjana's apparition the next morning. They filmed the group's experience sleeping on the hill. Cimela adds, "We were so young and fresh back then!"
Cimela and Jessi went canoeing at the river restaurant when the group celebrated Rich's birthday. Cimela could use some practice, but Jess has been canoeing for years.
Sean, Cimela, and Jessi took a break in Dubrovnik, Croatia. They still found some time to talk about work.
Filmmakers Cimela and Jessi went on a month-long tour with Apparition Hill when it was first released. They spent nearly every day in an airport. This was taken at O'Hare in Chicago. Cimela said, "If we had a dollar for how many times we checked in to this airport this month, we'd have 8 dollars. That would get you 1.5 argo tea."
Apparition Hill was edited in Cocoa Beach, Florida in a small condo where the filmmakers lived and worked for five months. They often referred to the condo as the Cocoa Cave.
Director Sean Bloomfield is passionate about fishing. We took a day off of editing to clear our heads on the open seas!
Sean and Cimela out on the high seas near Cape Canaveral.
Instead of water, Matt's drink of choice while climbing Cross Mountain was Coke Zero.
Sean, Cimela, Matt, and Ben posed in their Go-Brightly shirts honoring Holly and her bright spirit that spread joy wherever she went.
Pete and Jessi took a selfie with the microphone before the group embarked on the Peace March.
Miki's police officer friend helped us play a prank on Ben. Despite not being pictured here, Ben was a great sport about it. Mark and the officer enjoyed sharing work stories.
Jill with filmmakers Cimela and Jessi in Mostar.
Jessi filming the group on a day trip to Mostar, a historic town near Medjugorje.
Ben contemplating life (or just taking a break) while climbing Cross Mountain.
Filmmakers Cimela and Jessi often rode in the trunk of the rental car while filming Apparition Hill.
Filmmaker Jessi Hannapel was able to capture Holly's experience climbing Apparition Hill. Mark, Pete, Matt, and Holly left to climb the mountain without telling anyone, but Jessi chased them down with her camera to capture this unforgettable climb.
Miki played the guitar and sang for us as we floated down the river. It was a special treat on Rich's 50th birthday
These crazy kids and their watermelon!
Filmmakers Jess and Cimela took a selfie with the camera and Mary on top of Apparition Hill. The bad news is, their framing was not great, and they blocked Mary. The good news is, they had much better framing while filming the movie.
Filmmaker Jessi Hannapel followed the group on their climb up Apparition Hill with the boom microphone to record sound.
Some of the group relaxed on the grass next to St. James church as they waited for the rest of the group to join them. Once everyone was together, we all prayed the rosary.
Cinematographer Cimela Kidonakis on top of Apparition Hill. This was taken on a return trip to Medjugorje in November.
One brand of water in Croatia is Jana. This brand comes with an inspirational message to brighten your day. Filmmaker Jessi especially enjoyed this message she received while filming Apparition Hill.
Filmmaker Jessi took this picture of the group just after their sailboat ride in Croatia. It was a great opportunity for the group to first meet and get to know each other. This is one of the first scenes in the film.
Apparition Hill played in theaters around the world. Filmmakers Sean, Cimela, and Jessi went to many screenings to answer questions and share stories after the film. Jill and Mark also came to this screening in Encinitas, California.
When the group returned to Medjugorje for the Apparition Hill film premiere, they wanted to revisit their favorite spots. This was at the restaurant by the river.
Apparition Hill was edited just one short hour away from Disney World. After the film was finished, filmmakers Sean, Cimela, and Jessi rewarded themselves with a trip to Disney! This was Cimela's first time. Here they are next to the Great Movie Ride. If only that ride featured animatronic versions of Mark and Pete investigating Medjugorje!
The group took a fancy selfie in the elevator on the way up to the theater where Apparition Hill would have its European premiere in Mostar.
Pete went canoeing with Director Sean's son James. Sean's wife and three children were often nearby during the filming of Apparition Hill. They were incredibly supportive of the whole project.
Jessi and Cimela got right back in a canoe on their return trip to Medjugorje for the premiere of Apparition Hill.
Jessi, Cimela, and Jill were all smiles on their trip to Colorado to speak at a screening of Apparition Hill. The cast and crew grew very close while filming the movie, and they always enjoyed excuses to see each other again. Fun fact: filmmaker Jessi shared a room with Jill in Medjugorje during the filming of the movie.
Jessi, Cimela, and Jill posed like the woman in this poster at a screening of Apparition Hill in Pennsylvania.
Filmmakers Cimela and Jessi had many early mornings on their Apparition Hill premiere tour. They always enjoyed getting their tea and coffee.
Jessi and Cimela were thrilled to see Mike Nolan in South Bend, Indiana. Mike Nolan wrote the original music for the film. Jessi, Cimela, and Mike were all together for the Marian Conference at Notre Dame University. In this picture, they all pointed to their names on the Apparition Hill poster.
The second time that Apparition Hill showed in a theater was at River Oaks in Cimela's hometown of Houston, Texas. Many of Cimela's friends and family were there for the screening. After seeing the film, Cimela's friend Sarah added, "So happy to sit among so many tonight & watch what she's been creating for the past year. Beyond the awesome storytelling, I'm just. blown away. by the ones whose stories were told. Their sweet, earnest spirit just... fills you in such an honest way. hard not to be reminded of a sweet loving God when you get to walk with his crazy kids through part of life."
Sean took this picture of Cimela and Jessi filming Ryan for his follow up interview near Navy Pier in downtown Chicago.
Here's Cimela and Jessi, ready to film the group walk the Peace March. It was a long 9 miles to carry all that camera equipment.
Cinematographer Cimela caught a croaker on our fishing adventure day.
Cinematographer Cimela Kidonakis worked hard to film Apparition Hill. Everything the group did in the film, Cimela did backwards with a camera. She carried heavy equipment up mountains and stayed up late every night to back up the footage. She deserves a nap.
Director Sean Bloomfield can sometimes be very cheesy, but he's got great taste in food and movies.
The cast and crew grew very close during the filming of Apparition Hill. Pete and Matt showed their love to director Sean Bloomfield during their return trip to Medjugorje in November.
The group walked toward St. James church in the heart of Medjugorje. Fun fact: one of our favorite hang out spots is Colombo's restaurant. It's just to the left of the church, across the street. Get the filmmaker's favorite dish, tuna pizza!
It was an amazing experience climbing Cross Mountain with Holly. Jessi filmed her interview at the top. She remembers feeling so inspired by Holly's strength. Jessi adds, "I had a hard time keeping up with Holly while climbing. I had to edit all my heavy breathing out of the shots we used in the film."
Cinematographer Cimela Kidonakis can make a tripod out of anything, including Director Sean Bloomfield. Sean turned out to be surprisingly good at balancing cameras on his head.
Cimela posed with her camera and MoVI steadicam rig at the bow of the sailboat in Croatia. Jessi took this photo just a couple hours after meeting Cimela for the first time. Now they're great friends!
Cimela filmed Jill and Pete along the coast of Croatia on the way to Medjugorje. This coastal drive is the perfect example of a scenic route. It takes longer but the view is breathtaking.
Cimela rested in the grass outside St. James church before the group gathered to pray the rosary.
Director Sean Bloomfield looked pensively into the distance as he filmed the group climbing Apparition Hill. Sean has been to Medjugorje over fifty times. He was inspired to make the film, Apparition Hill, after seeing many peoples' lives changed after their time in Medjugorje. Sean was the only member of the cast and crew who had been to Medjugorje before. Everyone else, including filmmakers Jessi and Cimela, experienced it for the first time. Sean showed everyone the best tips, tricks, and secret spots.
Jill, Rich, and Jessi settled in for their camp out on Apparition Hill before Mirjana's apparition. Rich brought his guitar and serenaded us late into the night. Jill brought her jokes that had us cracking up until we peed our pants. Cimela brought a little orange monster friend named Charlie that Jessi is holding in this picture.
Sean steadied the camera on this conveniently placed glass during a lunchtime discussion at Colombo's.
Filmmaker Jessi Hannapel is not known for being particularly active or outdoorsy. She was dedicated to making this film, but her dramatic facial expressions always gave her away. Cross Mountain was a challenge for her. On another note, Holly would often say to her daughter, "I love you to the moon and back." Jessi didn't know that until they reached the top of Cross Mountain and Holly pointed to her shirt and shared that story.
Ben and Jessi paused to catch their breath on Cross Mountain. This was actually a strategic pause. When we filmed the group climbing Cross Mountain, we wanted them to be able to experience it on their own. The group waited at the bottom and every ten minutes one person would go up. This allowed them to climb at their own pace. Ben, Cimela, and Jessi were also able to capture footage of each individual before we all reconvened at the top.
Dogs can frequently be seen wandering the streets of Medjugorje. This dog followed Ben and Cimela as they filmed the Peace March.
Cinematographer Cimela Kidonakis filmed on the historical bridge in Mostar near a friendly stray dog.
Darryl came to Medjugorje just before the rest of the group that was filmed for the movie. The people pictured here helped carry Darryl up Apparition Hill. Darryl was truly inspired by Medjugorje. About a year after this trip, he passed away. Part of his obituary reads, "In the last few years Darryl’s Catholic faith grew and became very strong. He travelled to Medjugorje twice. The first time he was involved in the filming of Apparition Hill, a documentary. The second time he returned to see the premiere of the movie. He was very proud and honoured to be involved in this project. Darryl’s strong faith inspired many people."
The group gathered every day to eat lunch in Two Hearts, the hotel where they stayed in Medjugorje.
Miki gave Darryl and his group an introductory talk about Medjogorje. Cimela used this time to do a 'practice run' of filming for Apparition Hill.
Our friend, Mario, a local videographer, helped the crew film some scenes in Medjugorje. He can be seen in the far right of this pic. He is known for his filming skills and blunt humor.
Jill, Mark, Pete, Jessi, and Cimela climbed this tower in a historic mosque in Mostar. They also sang Ain't No Mountain High Enough and danced.
Sean, Cimela, Miki, Ben, and Darryl relaxed with some coffee. This is where Ben pretended to push Darryl into the car wash. You can see that shot at the end of the film in the compilation of quick moments from everyone's trip.
Jill, Jessi, Cimela, and Holly loved visiting the waterfalls near Medjugorje. A few people in the group even jumped off the waterfalls!
Mark, Pete, Ben, and Jessi tried to get some rest using rocks as pillows on Apparition Hill.
Jessi and Cimela...I mean Thor and Hulk made it on the plane with only seconds to spare before they took off to film Jill for her follow up interview in Pennsylvania.