Documentaries Posts

Iron Opera

The annual Northern Lights Music Festival on Minnesota’s Iron Range is a three-week event that includes an opera production. Documentary directors Mike Scholtz and Marius Anderson captured the process and stories leading up to the 2021 festival for the WDSE-TV feature embedded above. Iron Opera is the story of concert pianist Veda Zuponcic and a cast of talent plucked around the world and around da Range.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978

This 10-minute documentary on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 was produced by Sam Fulton and Mark Rogalski for National History Day on the theme of “Debate & Diplomacy.” The process paper and bibliography is at mn.nhd.org.

Nelson Family Music

This documentary about the musical Nelson family was produced at the end of 2021 as part of the North by North Film School‘s Documentary Film Production class. It was directed by Carolyn Nelson-Kavajecz

It Happened Right Here: Duluth & the Iron Range

This short documentary, written and produced by Dale Bluestein for the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest‘s series It Happened Here, delves into the early history of Jews in the Duluth area, starting with the arrival of newlyweds Bernard and Nettie Silberstein in 1870.

Oshkigin Spirit of Fire

The story of how the past century of fire phobia has really mucked up our forests isn’t new, but this new 16-min video with gorgeous photography tells it in a personal way. Featuring Vern Northrup of Fond du Lac, Damon Panek of Red Cliff, and Lane Johnson of the Cloquet Forestry Center.

 

The Life and Times of Ignatius Donnelly

Silver Brook Township’s Mike Scholtz has a new documentary, produced for the southwestern Minnesota Pioneer PBS series Postcards.

The subject is Ignatius Donnelly, an American congressman, populist writer and amateur scientist known for his writings about the lost continent of Atlantis. The story begins near the town of Donnelly, roughly 200 miles southwest of Duluth, and takes viewers on a wild ride exploring the amazing legacy of the man.

Duluth actor Jody Kujawa plays the role of Donnolly in reenactment scenes.

Selective Focus: Mike Scholtz

Mike Scholtz makes movies about odd little things that no one seems to know about, but after watching them, you think, “Why didn’t I know about that?” Also, these are not little things, they are big parts of some people’s lives. The world premiere of his latest film “Riplist” at the Fargo Film Fest was just announced today. Mike talks about what drives him to dig into these stories and presents some trailers from his work.

I’m a documentary filmmaker who enjoys making funny films about serious subjects. Or serious films about funny subjects. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which. But I do like to sneak up on an audience with a few laughs before I hit them with the soul-crushing realization that we’re all going to die in a cold, uncaring universe.

That’s how I approached my latest film, Riplist. It’s about a group of friends from Fargo who compete in a celebrity deadpool. It’s a contest where players draft celebrities they think might die in the next year, like fantasy football but with elderly presidents and ailing musicians. I hope people are as morbidly fascinated with this hobby as I am, because it’s premiering at the Fargo Film Festival in March. I suspect it will play at some other festivals in the area shortly after that. If you like your comedy as black as your soul, I think you’ll like this film.

WDSE-TV Documentary: “Fires of 1918”

The date October 12, 1918 will forever be remembered in this part of the world as a date that didn’t just make history, but erased history. Now, a century later, WDSE-TV presents a new documentary on the greatest catastrophe ever in northern Minnesota.

Knife River Documentary

Justin Christopher Ayd and Jennifer Lillemo Ayd of H8C Productions in Minneapolis have been working on a documentary about Knife River, a small community about eight miles northeast of Duluth. The trailer above reflects the quiet tone and style that will characterize the completed film.

Filmmakers of Duluth

A short documentary highlighting three filmmakers working in Duluth — Keith Hopkins, Robert Larson and Matthew Dressel. Directed by Wyatt Buckner.

Some Historical Notes on the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

This video is part of a DVD Kenneth Newhams of Duluth Shipping News produced in 2005 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Aerial Lift Bridge. It features archival video courtesy of Don Hermanson at Keweenaw Video Productions.

Watch a film about the real Vikings of Minnesota for free

Fans of Vikings might feel better after watching this documentary about all the actual Vikings who supposedly visited Minnesota a millennium ago. Filmed partly in Duluth, Lost Conquest played on the film festival circuit in 2015 and 2016. Now it’s available for free online to the entire world.

Mike Watt at the NorShor Theater: “Eyegifts From Minnesota”

This documentary by Bill Draheim follows Mike Watt and his band at the time, the Jom and Terry Show, as they drive into Duluth and load in for a performance at the NorShor Theater on May 28, 2002. They tour the old R. O. Carlson’s bookstore, do some sightseeing in Canal Park and spend the night at Shaky Ray Records before heading south for shows at the Turf Club in St. Paul and the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.

Watt wrote extensively about the tour, and the Duluth stop, on his “Our Oars Became Wings” Tour 2002 Diary. He marvels in the diary and in the film about seeing Lake Superior for the first time. He also mentions in the diary getting a tour of “the secret tunnels” under the NorShor and how it “feels haunted down there.”

Retribution Gospel Choir – “Working Away” Documentary

Duluth guys in Spain.

Documentary Film Passing Through

Passing Through is a documentary about a man from Northern Minnesota who has struggled with the HIV/AIDS virus for 20 years. I finished the film in 2007 as a senior in the video production program at UW-Superior. The film won the jury award in the student category at the Wisconsin Film Festival in ’08. Since then I haven’t been sure what to do with it, so last night I uploaded it to Vimeo for the public to view. If you have 20 minutes please check it out.

[The video embedded in this post has been removed from Vimeo.]

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