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'Wild Bill's Run' claimed awards for Best Documentary Feature and "You Couldn't Make This Up" distinction. It was also nominated for the Audience Award. The documentary uses some of the original 16mm film, but Dean Vogtman shot much of the footage, including interviews for the film.Once among America's 10 Most Wanted, Bill Cooper disappeared under mysterious circumstances. (Submitted photo)

Vogtman wins Seattle film fest awards

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"Wild Bill's Run," a feature-length documentary shot by Park Rapids native Dean Vogtman, received two awards and was nominated for a third at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) in Seattle, Wash.

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The film, directed by Mike Scholtz, received the award for Best Documentary Feature and the "You Couldn't Make This Up" Award. It was also nominated for the Audience Award.

"Wild Bill's Run" tells the story of Willow River, Minn. native Bill Cooper. During the winters of 1972 and 1973, Cooper led a crew of adventurers on a grueling expedition across the Arctic ice.

During some of the darkest days of the Cold War, their goal was to snowmobile from Minnesota to Moscow and around the world. But they didn't make it. After the failed expedition returned home, Cooper allegedly turned to a life of crime.

Accused of drug smuggling and bank robbery, Cooper was named one of America's 10 Most Wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service. But he was never caught, disappearing under mysterious circumstances.

Some of the existing 16mm film was used for the documentary," Vogtman explained, but he shot much of the documentary and the interviews.

"An award like this means a lot to an independent filmmaker," said Scholtz. "It's tough to get noticed in this business. I'm thrilled that my quirky Arctic crime caper is finding an audience."

Scholtz is a filmmaker from Wrenshall. Vogtman is a videographer from Duluth, founder of Happy Tree Productions.

"Wild Bill's Run" is their first feature-length film. It premiered on April 19 at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.

The Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) ran from May 4 - 12, in theaters across Seattle. Hailed as the Slamdance of Seattle, STIFF is dedicated to the exhibition of independent, underground and experimental films.

This was the festival's eighth year. For more information about the film, visit wildbillsrun.com.

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