Director Bill Eigen, left, watches as his film, ‘The Jingle Dress,’ gets filmed. SUBMITTED PHOTO
A Minnesota-filmed movie focusing on Native American culture and starring people from this area is gearing up for its North Dakota premier in Fargo. On Oct. 13, "The Jingle Dress" will show at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in the Fargo Theatre. A question and answer time with director Bill Eigen will follow both screenings.
The plot of the film, Eigen describes as, "Desert Storm war vet John Red Elk moves his family off the reservation in rural northern Minnesota, to the inner core of Minneapolis to investigate the mysterious death of his long lost Uncle Norton.
"Mostly seen through the eyes of the 10-year-old daughter, follow this family as they experience the foreign culture of an urban big city and gain a new understanding and appreciation for their own Native American roots."
Some of the actors included in the film are Chaske Spencer (of the "Twilight" series), Stacey Thunder, Kimberly Guerrero and Steve Reevis.
"It was made in Minnesota, and a lot of people in northern Minnesota are in it," Eigen said of the film he wrote and directed. "There are people from Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake."
Eigen, who hails from the Twin Cities, has directed a couple documentary films, and his travels for those films were the inspiration behind his fictional "The Jingle Dress."
"I travel a lot in my life, bumming around the world, seeing what other cultures are like, and one day I realized there was an equally exotic group of folks that live right amongst us in a culture that not many people really know about," he said.
Eigen said while it's a rarity in some states, people in Minnesota actually have the opportunity to "brush up against" Native American culture. So with his movie, he was able to get a handle on contemporary Native American culture and show it to the mass audience.
"What was important when I wrote the script, it's a made-up story but I made it a point to talk to Native American friends of mine to get them to vet the story because I really wanted the Native American population to like it. That was very important," he said.
So far, he's gotten a good, kind response from Native Americans, he added.
It took Eigen about one year to write "The Jingle Dress," and that was about 15 years ago. He received a grant from the Minnesota Legacy Fund about a year and a half ago to turn his script into a film.
It took 21 days to shoot the film, and then it took about six months to edit it. While Eigen had an editor for the film, they sat "shoulder to shoulder working on it."
Now he's working on getting the film seen by as many people as possible. "The Jingle Dress" has shown at film festivals around the country, and has been shown in Minnesota, but this is the closest showing to Detroit Lakes, and a first showing in North Dakota.
Though Eigen didn't divulge too much about his future films, he has written other scripts, and a couple are about "equally as exotic cultures." One, he said, has to do with Tibetan and Chinese politics against the background of international art smuggling.
Though the scripts are written, he's still looking for funding to create the films.