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Duluth: A new film by Nicole Brending

Apparently a short film called Duluth was completed in 2010. (I’ll note right up front that the trailer features brief nudity.)

Embedding is disabled on the trailer, so we can’t put it up here, but you can watch it on Vimeo.

The URL given at the end of the trailer is to a site that doesn’t exist. There is, however, an Internet Movie Database plot summary, which reads as follows:

A stunning portrait of the surreal experience of grief, Duluth tells the story of Frankie, a small town stripper, who, after finding out that her grandfather has died, tries to finish her shift dancing for the old men who patron the club. When her emotions become too overwhelming, Frankie recedes into a fantasy of her past, only to be re-confronted by the harsh reality of the present.

Also according to IMDb, Nicole Brending wrote, directed and starred in the film, and the filming location is listed as “Duluth, Minnesota.”

Full cast:

Nicole Brending … Hula Hoop Girl
Paul Cram … D.J.
Marguerite French … Frankie
Chad Novak … Bartender
Warren Schueneman … Grandpa
Emily Trempe … Smokey
Hank Watkins … Customer

27 Comment(s)

  1. I don’t think I recognize the strip club. There isn’t a clear shot in the trailer, but it doesn’t appear to be the NorShor or Club Saratoga or Fuzzy’s Place or Sugar Daddy’s or Centerfold’s.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  2. I’m once again fascinated by the stark use of the city’s name to evoke… something. The name seems to evoke sensibilities seedier than the usual image, but it still gives off that “at the end of the world” feeling that really seems to be the way everyone else sees us.

    I’d be interested in a survey about what the word means to people (aside from other Minnesotans, because for too many of them it just means vacationland with a side of nostalgic hokyness I think).

    hbh1 | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Also, why hasn’t the Zietgeist screened the thing?

    hbh1 | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  4. I think it hasn’t been shown at Zinema 2 because the movie is two years old, titled Duluth, is purported to have been shot in Duluth, yet no one in Duluth seems to be aware until now that it exists.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  5. tamara | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  6. From the newspaper article:

    Shot at a Duluth strip club, the 2010 film follows a stripper as she copes with the news of her grandfather’s death.

    I’m really not seeing a Duluth strip club in the trailer. Can anyone put together a convincing argument that we are looking at the Club Saratoga here?

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Why has no one brought up the fact that Paul seems to be pretty familiar with the interior of every strip club in the area?

    Tom | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  8. RE: the feelings evoked by the name DULUTH…before I came here in 2000, the name sounded very UP NORTH, COLD, MYSTERIOUS, MYTHICAL…and sometimes it still does — I will see it or hear it in a certain way and that old feeling comes back…hard to describe, but there is “something” in the name.

    FranceneStarr | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  9. Looks similar to what Gore Vidal did in 1983: A work called “Duluth” that really isn’t about “Duluth.”

    This sort of artistic snub is getting to be a recurring pattern. The movie “Leatherheads” was vaguely about Duluth but wasn’t filmed here.

    Coming up! “Duluth” the videogame, set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    farglebargle | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Here’s a cached version of

    BadCat! | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  11. I also agree that it looks like it wasn’t actually filmed here. I don’t know of any clubs that have the tiered seating/open ceiling shown in the trailer (though I was never in “Fuzzy’s Place” or whatever the name of the super-skeezy club downtown was).

    BadCat! | Sep 27, 2012 | New Comment
  12. That hardly held my interest for 45 seconds with boobs.

    TheKujawa | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Thanks BadCat! I always forget about the Wayback Machine.

    The home-page copy is interesting. It’s hard to tell which parts should be taken seriously:

    Missing and Exploited Films is a company dedicated to the creation of work by writer/director Nicole Brending. After her abduction in the early ’80s, the first sighting of Nicole was in the sex industry in Minneapolis, MN, where she reportedly worked for over 5 years before next being seen at Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film Program.  It is known that she studied screenwriting and directing and “seemed very nice.”  In spite of her apparent captivity, she managed to receive two Jerome Foundation Media Artist Grants, first for her short film Rebel and second for her short film Duluth, which recently received “Best Short Under 12 Minutes,” “Best Editing,” and “Faculty Honors” at the 2010 Columbia University Film Festival and is currently in submission to festivals around the world. Her short films have screened at over 40 festivals domestically and abroad and have received many honors and awards, including “Best Short” at the Hamburg Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, “Best Short” at Q Cinema, “Best of the Fest” at Palm Springs International Shortfest, the “Prix DeVarti” at Ann Arbor, a Student Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and distribution from Frameline. She was recently awarded the McKnight Screenwriting Fellowship for her script Preservation which also won the Ezra Litwak Award for Distinction in Screenwriting, and was a finalist for the 2010 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. Her whereabouts are presently unknown.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  14. I’m not so sure that isn’t the Norshor. It’s really hard to tell, though, since it’s so dark. I can’t remember what the Norshor mezzanine looked like while the Experience was in operation. I think the biggest clue is the wood paneling. I don’t remember them putting in paneling at the Norshor Experience, but I was only in there once or twice.

    Another possibility is Lady Vi’s in Superior, which used to be the Lamplighter. I don’t know what renovations they did or what it looks like. I’ve never been in there. 

    I realize they said “a Duluth strip club,” but that doesn’t exclude Superior. I’ve seen Duluth referred to as “just outside Minneapolis” before.  

    Barrett Chase | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  15. The NorShor did have different tiers, but not the open-structure ceiling for light rigging (unless they added it below the ceiling). I’m at work so can’t review the clip again, but there’s a shot of her face where she’s looking down from the stage, and you can see behind her an open ceiling with metal gearing for light rigging.

    It doesn’t really look like the Lamplighter either, but I don’t remember what the ceilings looked like there.

    BadCat! | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  16. I think you’re right, BadCat. Good point.

    More digging reveals the film is 9 minutes long.

    Barrett Chase | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  17. adam | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  18. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I ruled out Sugar Daddy’s in Scanlon. I think I have only been in there once, about a dozen years ago. If these clips were shot in any of the places mentioned above, my money would be on Sugar Daddy’s, just because I can’t remember the inside of the place at all.

    But I guess if we’re going to consider places that far from Duluth, then Tuna’s Exotic Dance Club in Eveleth and the Gladiator Bar in Gilbert might be contenders as well.

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  19. It does kinda look like Sugar Daddy’s, but I have no idea what the ceiling looked like.

    I have to think that if it were actually filmed somewhere in Duluth, we would have heard at least something about it.

    BadCat! | Sep 28, 2012 | New Comment
  20. It was shot at Sugar Daddy’s in Cloquet/Scanlon except for the ballerina images -- those were shot in Minneapolis on a theater stage.  It’s a short film and so only a four-day shoot, which is why I’m guessing no one heard about it up there.  The title Duluth is meant to suggest the cold bleak setting of the film, although Cloquet and Scanlon are certainly more bleak than Duluth proper.     

    nmb | Sep 29, 2012 | New Comment
  21. This is an exterior shot.  Hope it clears the air.  

    nmb | Sep 29, 2012 | New Comment
  22. So now the question is, are there other parts of the film that were shot in Duluth, or should the filming location be listed as Scanlon?

    Paul Lundgren | Sep 29, 2012 | New Comment
  23. We can also speculate that stripping in Minnesota is a good first step in the path towards filmmaker. First Diablo Cody and now Nicole Brending.  

    Chris | Oct 1, 2012 | New Comment
  24. Here’s a sample reel of some more scenes from Sugar Daddy’s in Scanlon. Expect nudity.

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 29, 2013 | New Comment
  25. Is this gonna be like parts of Fargo being shot in Minneapolis? | Jan 30, 2013 | New Comment
  26. Seeing as how about half of Fargo actually takes place in Minneapolis, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Although maybe your point is a disjoint between the title and the actual setting. If I recall correctly, only one scene in Fargo takes place in Fargo: the scene where Jerry hires the killers.

    Still, very few films are truly shot on location, and even when they are, artistic liberties are usually taken. For a local example, see You’ll Like My Mother, which was shot at Glensheen but takes place in a fictitious mansion about 20 miles outside of Duluth.

    Barrett Chase | Jan 30, 2013 | New Comment
  27. (That was kinda my point.)

    Some Like it Hot purportedly takes place in Florida, but the Hotel del Coronado (the hotel where the majority of the movie was filmed) is on Coronado Island in San Diego.

    I’m still left wondering how John Cusack gets from Seattle to Tacoma by way of South Tacoma Way in the big driving scene in Say Anything. | Jan 30, 2013 | New Comment

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