Tuesday, October 30, 2018

41 North Film Festival Nov. 1-4 at Rozsa Center to feature independent films, filmmakers, more...

In a scene from The Unafraid, a new documentary by Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, DACA (Dreamer) student Sylvia speaks at a rally for the right to education. The Unafraid is one of 20 independent films featured in this year's 41 North Film Festival Nov. 1-4 at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

By Mark Wilcox, Michigan Tech News Writer
Posted on Michigan Tech News Oct. 30, 2018
Reprinted here in part with permission.

HOUGHTON -- The 41 North Film Festival will be held from Thursday, Nov. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 4, at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The festival, now in its 14th year, showcases more than 20 award-winning independent films and filmmakers from around the region, country, and world -- along with special events and music.*

All events are free and open to the public. All films are in the main Rozsa theater unless otherwise noted. Michigan Tech students may bring an I.D. and enter through the south door of the theater to tap your I.D. upon entrance to each film. All others, please see the Festival Admission page for information about how to acquire a free ticket for all the films.

While this year’s films focus on a variety of topics from solar-powered flight to the bizarre world of industrial musicals, several films will be of particular interest to Copper Country audiences.

Bisbee '17: A tragic and complicated past

Described by critics as "a ghost story by way of a documentary," Robert Greene’s Bisbee '17 looks at a former copper mining community’s attempt to grapple with its tragic and complicated past. A brutal act of retaliation against labor organizing efforts in 1917 still haunts the town and defines the relationship of the community to its ancestors. Although Bisbee is 2,000 miles from the Keweenaw, the Bisbee mining district was built by men from Calumet, Michigan. The Calumet and Arizona Mining Company, which cooperated with the other companies in orchestrating the ruthless events of 1917, had officers with close family ties to our local copper mines. It is a story that will be both new and familiar to those interested in local mining history.

Bisbee '17 will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Following the screening there will be a Q and A and panel discussion with the film’s director, Robert Greene (via Skype), Sarah Fayen Scarlett and LouAnn Wurst from Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences and Jo Urion Holt from the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

The Unafraid: Heather Courtney and the Dreamers

Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, director/producer of the award-winning Where Soldiers Come From, brings her new documentary, The Unafraid, to the festival. It follows the lives of three DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students, or Dreamers, in Georgia, a state that has banned them from attending their top state universities and disqualified them from receiving in-state tuition at any other public college. Shot in an observational style over four years, this film takes an intimate look at the lives of Alejandro, Silvia and Aldo as they pursue their right to education and fight for the rights of their families and communities.

In addition to the screening of their documentary at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, Courtney and one of the students from the film, Alejandro Galeana-Salinas, will participate in a question and answer session. A reception for them at 9:30 p.m. Friday follows the screening and discussion.

Keweenaw native Heather Courtney, director/producer of The Unafraid, will be one of the filmmaker guests at the 2018 41 North Film Festival. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

Festival Director Erin Smith says, "Heather Courtney is the kind of thoughtful and committed documentarian who is able to bring us close to her subjects because of her profound respect for them. In her hands, huge, often polarizing issues like war or immigration become grounded in the experiences of people who help us imagine their more subtle and complicated dimensions."

Copperdog: A work in progress

Also of particular interest to Keweenaw audiences, is Copperdog (working title) which follows four women mushers and their dogs as they train for the annual CopperDog 80/150. Director Laurie Little and cinematographer Justin Jones, will be in attendance for this special work-in-progress screening of their film at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4. Some four-legged special guests will be on hand as well.

The Providers: Health care in a rural area

A film of interest to anyone concerned about health care in a rural area is The Providers (2018). Set against the backdrop of the physician shortage and the opioid epidemic in rural America, this film follows three health care professionals working in a remote area much like ours.

A scene from The Providers, a film about health care in a rural area. (Photo courtesy Erin Smith, 41 North Film Festival director)

With intimate access, the documentary shows the transformative power of providers' relationships with marginalized patients, raising as many questions as it answers about health care challenges facing rural communities today. Dr. Leslie Hayes, who is featured in the film, will join Ray Sharp from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department for a discussion following the film screening at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3. Dr. Hayes was recognized by the White House in 2016 as a Champion of Change and is married to Michigan Tech alumnus David Rich.

STEM in the spotlight

This year, 41 North will screen five films delving into history, issues and accomplishments relating to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) innovation.

The featured films look at high school students competing for an international prize (Science Fair), an early Silicon Valley startup (General Magic), internet censorship (The Cleaners), the first photograph of the moon taken from space (Earthrise) and the first solar-powered flight around the world (Point of No Return).

Following the showing of Science Fair at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, there will be a discussion featuring a panel of STEM educators.

A little something for everyone

With more than 20 films to choose from, the 41 North Film Festival offers a little something for everyone. However, Smith challenges festival goers to choose at least one film that doesn’t seem like something that would interest them.

"After every festival, one of the things I hear the most is how surprised someone was to discover that they loved a film that wasn’t high on their list," Smith notes. "Use the festival as an opportunity to explore something new."

* Click here for the schedule of films and events. Click on each film for a link to a description of the film.