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Northern Light
Directed by Nick Bentgen and Lisa Kjerulff
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Set against the backdrop of a town's annual snowmobile race, NORTHERN LIGHT explores the working class experience in a series of captivating personal stories of recession-era America. The lives of three families change profoundly in the north woods of Michigan, where winters are unforgiving, jobs are hard to come by, and the line between living life and simply surviving is razor-thin. This cinematic, observational documentary explores the American working class experience through character-based storytelling. As racers and their families pin their hopes to a 500 mile-long test of endurance, small triumphs and giant sacrifices are made along the way. Dysfunction and hardship permeate the cold, but this harsh setting is simultaneously the site of community and familial intimacy. Filmed over the course of several years spent with the film's protagonists, NORTHERN LIGHT is a fresh and vital contribution to the tradition of contemporary American cinema verite.

film still

"Critics' Pick! There's a stillness to the filmmaking, coupled with Saunder Jurriaans and Danny Bensi's truly lovely original score, that lends specific shotstoddlers bundled up like pastel Ewoks on a snowdrift, or a bakery window glowing like a still life in a gallerya near-heartbreaking melancholy." —Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

"A stellar doc of real American beauty… There are a thousand movies out right now, but NORTHERN LIGHT is the one not to miss." —Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

"I'll not soon forget the durational brilliance of an extended fixed shot of a snow-suited timekeeper on a frozen lake patiently waiting as a snowmobile zips into and out of view, its roar slowly fading into the wintry quiet and then reviving before the vehicle comes speeding through the frame again, as tedious and entrancing as a clock." —Eric Hynes, Cinema Scope

"A mosaic of moments among parents and children, life partners and friends, all rendered with lucent beauty by cinematographer Bentgen... An elegantly assembled work that gathers slowly." —Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment

Winner, Most Innovative Feature, 2013 Visions du Reel, Switzerland
Winner, Best Cinematography, 2013 New Orleans Film Festival, Louisiana
2013 Viennale International Film Festival, Austria
2013 True/False Film Festival, Missouri
2013 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, Canada
2013 American Film Festival, Poland
2013 BAMcinemaFest, New York

105 minutes / Color
Release: 2014
Copyright: 2013

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Subject areas:
American Studies, Cinema Studies, Closed Captioned, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Economic Sociology, Family Relations, Sociology, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights

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View a PDF of the Film's Press Kit

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