Fargo Monthly March 2024

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The amount of talent featured this month is a bit mind-boggling—from the various facets of the Fargo Film Festival (directors, videographers, actors, etc.) to the independent producer Kristian Stenslie, and, of course, our cover feature, Hutch Johnson. Besides the obvious common denominator, these subjects share more than just the film aspect. Whether it's Hutch's adaptability and love for the trade, the fest's local and global filmmakers' desire to spin and anecdote and chronicle, or Kristian's unwavering creativity and intricate storytelling, they each have their own way of doing it, but are leading something regardless—they are all connected by the fact that they have built community. As you may have picked up already, community builders commonly fill the pages of Fargo Monthly— they're what make the stories in these issues possible. The only thing that may be just as, if not more, pertinent in the way of community-building, is the community itself; and our three

features mentioned above are all deeply woven into their given communities that they helped to harvest. Without sharing specifics of each feature's story, know this: the people who share their passions, their creativity, their stories; the people who have the courage and tenacity to put effort into things that fill their cups, those are the people who make our communities what they are, and we should be immensely grateful for them.

In other news, I feel that it is only right that I now take some of that courage and share something with you, readers; share something that I deeply care about and have a passion for. Now, I could go on and on about my many special interests, but this is my editorial so I am going to share some about the American Advertising Awards (the ADDY Awards) hosted by the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Last month, for the first time, I won two ADDY Awards for my work with Fargo Monthly. Our editorial team, specifically myself and my talented coworker and

Art Director Kim Cowles, won a Gold ADDY for our April issue of Fargo Monthly, as well as a Silver ADDY for our September issue of the magazine. Winning an ADDY award has been a goal of mine for many years, and I have rarely been so energized and satisfied checking something off my list. To bring it full circle, I fully recognize that I wouldn't have been able to create these winning projects were there not a community and community builders to tell the story of.

In this editorial's closing advice, I urge you to not only do something that you love this month but to tell someone about it. Share your passions, share your interests, no matter how big or small, weird or predictable. Talk about things you love! And, find some community in it too.

Happy Reading!

24 WHAT'S NEXT FOR HUTCH JOHNSON? TABLE OF CONTENTS FARGO MONTHLY // MARCH 2024 COVER STORY All your favorite things in one spot. FARGOMONTHLY.COM Extended content, events, drink specials, giveaways and more. info@spotlightmediafargo.com 701-478-7768 fargomonthly.com @fargomonthly /fargomonthly @fargomonthly FIND US ONLINE 38 46 24 36 36 38 46 14 16 20 Fargo Film Festival 2024 Local Film Maker Goes From Playtime to Amazon Prime Meet the Maker: Love, Kathy The Canned Water That's Taking Over from D-S Beverages Escaping Ordinary with Brewhalla Grab Your Boots and Let's Party at WE Fest Partnered Content: 4 | MARCH 2024 | FARGOMONTHLY.COM



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Ranch in Detroit Lakes, MN.

This legendary festival has seen performances by musical icons such as Alabama, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, George Strait, The Judds, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, Kane Brown, and Morgan Wallen.

While watching unforgettable performances by headliners is a major highlight of WE Fest, the festival also offers a platform for other incredible performers who may eventually become headliners themselves. So, if you're looking to discover new artists and add some great tunes to your playlist, WE Fest is the place to be!


This year's lineup features Eric Church, Parker McCollum, and Jelly Roll.

Jelly Roll's career has skyrocketed since his Grand Ole Opry debut in November 2021. He has become a fan favorite on country and rock music charts, winning the 2023

CMA New Artist of the Year, CMT Male Video of the Year, CMT Breakthrough Video of the Year, and Digital-First Performance of the Year for his hit song "Son of A Sinner." This Nashville native recently wrapped up his sold-out 44-city Backroad Baptism Arena Tour, and WE Fest is thrilled to bring him to Detroit Lakes, MN.

Parker McCollum has made a big impact on the music scene in a short amount of time. McCollum won the 2022 Best New Male Artist at the American Country Music Awards and Breakthrough Video for his hit song "To Be Loved By You" at the CMT Music Awards. This summer he is set to embark on the 41-date U.S. Burn It Down Tour, bringing his electrifying live performance to audiences across the nation. McCollum shared, “2024 is going to be the biggest and best show we have ever put together. I can’t wait for all the fans to come see what we are working up. The Burn It Down Tour is going to be absolutely epic.”

WE FEST 2023

Eric Church is a veteran of WE FEST, having performed on the Soo Pass Ranch stage four times before. During his white-hot career, he has been nominated for and won just about every country music award possible while amassing a passionate fanbase around the globe known as the Church Choir.

Trace Adkins has been a successful country music talent for over 25 years, selling over 11 million albums and charting over 20 singles. He is also a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has acted in film and television.

In addition to headliners, the festival features country classics, new hitmakers, and fresh faces.

The Bellamy Brothers been making music since the 1970s and are known for paving the way for country music duos. They hold the record for most duo nominations in the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Awards.

Koe Wetzel is a country rockstar from northeast Texas who has reached over 1.3 billion streams to date and has racked up three RIAA GoldCertified singles. He has received acclaim from American Songwriter, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and many more.

Carly Pearce has won multiple ACM and CMA awards and had four No. 1 singles. This year, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde made Grammy history, becoming the first female pairing to win Best Country Duo/Group Performance with their chart-topping hit "Never Wanted To Be That Girl."

Elle King's hit single "Ex's & Oh's" earned her two Grammy nominations. King’s mega-hit “Drunk (and I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” with Miranda Lambert reached No. 1 in

Lonestar has charted over 20 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart, including nine number-one songs. Their hit "Amazed" was the first country song to become number one on the Billboard Hot 100 since "Islands in the Stream" in 1983.

April 2022, becoming the first female duet to reach the top of the charts in almost 30 years. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, the Country Music Association Award for Musical Event of the Year, and won the Academy of Country Music Award for Video of the Year.

Continued >

has built a passionate fan base, selling out shows with his outlaw-style country.

Texas singer/ songwriter, Paul Cauthen is nicknamed "Big Velvet" due to his smooth baritone. His outlaw-country influenced sound and vocal delivery recalls the classic giants Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Jackson Dean is known for bringing a gritty, lyricdriven, old-school

recognize Corey Kent from Blake Shelton's team on "The Voice."

Appearing on the show introduced him to a larger, wider audience, and he and his band spent plenty of time on the road playing for new fans. His current hits, “Hearts on Fire” and “Something’s Gonna Kill Me” hold top positions streaming and on radio.

According to music publication Holler, “Lauren Watkins is a country superstar in the making.” Born and raised in Nashville,

TN, she’s been living in country music for as long as she can remember, spending her teenage years performing in downtown honky tonks. Watkins describes her sound as, “classic and sweet but with texture and grit.”

Stephen Wilson Jr., self-described as “Death Cab For Country,” draws upon indie rock, grunge, and country to create a distinct sound that is influenced by artists as diverse as The National, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Nirvana. Wilson Jr. has gained critical accolades and a global base of music fans enamored by his emotive performance, skilled guitar prowess, and powerful vocals.

Newer Scene to the

Don’t miss Tanner Adell. Tanner is paving her own lane of country music. Raised in cowboy boots between the coast of Manhattan Beach, CA, and the rustic charm of Star Valley, WY.

Don't miss out on the incredible lineup at WE Fest 2024, taking place August 1-3. The event will be hosted by the legendary Cowboy Troy. And if three days of music is not enough for you, WE Fest is also bringing back the Wednesday night kickoff bonus

Patrick Murphy, a native of Perham, MN, just landed his first publishing and major record deal.

Dakota Hale, who has made a name for herself performing across the

concert. If you have a 3-day ticket, you can attend the free show featuring Corey Kent and Joe Stamm Band.

Get your tickets today for the best and biggest country music festival

in the U.S. at wefest.com/tickets

Partner Content 22 | MARCH 2024 | FARGOMONTHLY.COM

What's Next for

Forecasting a New Era in Weather Reporting

If you're local to the FM area, you probably know who Hutch Johnson is—a local TV news personality who served as Valley News Live's chief meteorologist for 16 years before leaving the local station this past fall. Now, Hutch is delivering his own type of weather reporting, continuing his passion and serving a community that still eagerly awaits his reports.

For 16 years, Hutch Johnson was a familiar face on local television, guiding viewers through sunshine and storms with equal coolness. Last fall, he began a new venture, trading the broadcast studio for a digital platform, similar yet vastly different. Beginning in November 2023, he began hosting live streamings on Facebook and posting YouTube

videos with his local weather reports—aptly calling it, "Hutch's Weather." Through these interactive, engaging live videos, Hutch has created a dedicated community, and he continues to grow that community and support through tailored, viewercentric weather reporting.


Journey from Broadcast to Digital

Growing up in Montana, Hutch's passion for weather was evident early on.

"I always had a love for weather," he said, adding that his strengths in math and science outweighed grammar and English. Post-college, with a degree in meteorology and a minor in broadcasting, Hutch explored various industry niches before finding his true calling in TV weather reporting.

"Once I got there, I felt like it was what I had been put here to do," he said.

His broadcast career journey took him from Missouri to Bismarck and finally to Fargo, where he became a staple in many local homes for over a decade. As his TV broadcasting career neared its end last year, Hutch faced a pivotal decision. While he was offered other TV opportunities at the time, those clashed with his desire to stay in the Fargo area.

"I have one kid left in high school, so making sure he can finish without moving or dad leaving is something that's really [important]," he said.

His personal commitment, combined with inspiration,

spurred this innovative idea of launching an online weather service. Hutch began researching and laying the groundwork for his digital transition.

The Digital Model

In the fast-paced world of media, Hutch's transition from traditional broadcast meteorology to an online platform is a career shift that is representative of shifting consumer habits—people want their news on their own time.

"I saw a few meteorologists who left [TV] and start companies where they do a little radio, a little newspaper, and some online stuff—a lot of meteorologists will start a web page or have a blog or something like that," he said—but Hutch understood there could be more to this.

His vision was based on his experience in television and the role he established for himself within the community. He can see and understand people's habits, and this perspective allowed Hutch to tailor a model that aligns with modern lifestyles—efficient, accessible, and interactive.

"Sometimes people are still at the office, getting ready for their night," he said. "They want to know, as they're leaving the office, what's going on. They don't have

time to sit down for a half-hour show. So, that's the model that I thought of, and after talking to some colleagues, co-workers, and friends; doing a little networking; and trying to see if it was a practical idea or not—I decided to go for it," he said.

But, this reinvention required more than a just physical move.

The Transition

"For the first couple of months, that's all I did—research," he said. Setting up a studio at home and learning the intricacies of online broadcasting were his top priorities. "Once I decided to make a go of it, I've worked harder doing that than I ever did in TV," he admitted.

This hard work included constructing a professional studio in his home, developing graphics, and planning content strategies. It's easy to spot Hutch's dedication in his desire to bring both a professional and personal quality to online weather, differentiating his service from the standard 'cut and paste' weather forecasts.

And, on the fateful day of November 8, 2023, Hutch officially launched Hutch's Weather online, and although his research-heavy days were behind him for a moment after that, he immediately began chatting with this viewers, cataloging and collecting information and feedback from each stream.

Challenges and Adaptations

And while there truly was more to this than just the physical move— that move was no walk in the park. Hutch's shift from a well-equipped TV studio to a home-based digital platform brought a unique set of challenges, meaning he had to adapt both in technology and personal skill sets. Hutch had to learn the nuances of running a home studio, a stark contrast to the supported structure of a TV station.

"Every time the camera lights go on, somebody [at the station] is controlling the light level, the microphone level, or making sure my shot isn't blurry," he said. Going from that team-based environment in TV to a solo operation at home, Hutch found that he had to learn to multitask very quickly.

"Now, I'm doing that in real time sitting in front of a camera at home," he said. "Sometimes the camera gets blurry. I can't say excuse me [and] run behind the camera to focus it. Sometimes I just have to put another graphic up and hope the camera refocuses."

This required Hutch to expand his technical expertise. "I've had mistakes where the mic wasn't working right, and I had to shut down and restart," he said, but having to deal with computer problems and learning new software became part and parcel of his daily routine.

As a result, he's developed some "Plan Bs" for certain instances, like having a backup computer available at all times—something he would only know from having been in a particular situation of needing one before.

Engagement & Experience

With this structure, one of the most significant changes for Hutch is the rhythm of weather reporting. Gone are the constraints of scheduled newscasts, replaced by the freedom to update his audience whenever necessary. Hutch was introduced to the importance of engagement by figuring out his streaming schedule.

"It's been really cool asking viewers and people who follow, what works best for them, and then really listening to that," he said. "I really didn't know what my schedule was going to be, but I asked people, 'When do you want the weather?' And that's how it's evolved."

Through the transition to his new platform and, of course, trial and error—Hutch has discovered that the key to success lies in that active engagement with his audience. He values, and almost even depends, on real-time feedback, integrating it directly into his broadcasts, which is something that's not necessarily available in traditional TV meteorology.


watch [comments]... It's like me taking a phone call in the middle of a weather cast on TV," he said.

For example, he said to imagine this conversation, "Hey, good to hear from you, Sue, yes, it's going to be pretty snowy on your route from Wadena to Fargo." It's a conversation that would feel pretty out of place if he were to take that call during a TV broadcast, but it's a conversation that not only works well during live-streamed content—but is the exact content that is driving his audience and engagement numbers forward.

This conversation-like commentary proves crucial, especially when weather conditions change rapidly, which we know tends to happen in our region often and when we least (yet always) expect it. This allows Hutch to provide timely, curated updates that are more aligned with real-world events and viewer needs.

"[Viewers] will post a question while I'm doing the weather, and I see many of them, not all but I try to look for them, and I'll address it right there. I think that helps them, and it helps me know where my audience is because it's changing

Hutch believes his views can range from Dickinson, ND to Rochester, MN—especially if people in those areas travel to or through the FM area.

Hutch's digital platform has evolved into more than just a source for weather updates; it's become a community hub where viewers not only get their weather information but also feel heard and valued by the meteorologist delivering it.

Looking Forward

Looking ahead, Hutch is filled with optimism and ambition. His goals to expand his digital footprint and provide a more robust online presence begin with a step he has just recently taken.

"This year is going to be [about] establishing enough of a service to my advertisers that I can gain some more sponsorships to keep going," he said. "Right now I've got enough to keep going, but I really want to keep it going to grow. As new people and businesses in the community decide that this is something that they see growing, this is a way they could get their message out there, and that they

When Hutch first launched his new venture, he had a healthy following, with about 35,000 followers on Facebook, which he accumulated over his 16 years on broadcast TV. Now, only about three months into his new venture, he sits at almost His YouTube, which obviously began at a mellow zero upon starting, now boasts

want to be a part of Hutch's new venture, then, I'm going to be able to say goals A, B, and C can be met—But, those goals are vague."

That overarching goal is to create a sustainable model that not only supports his venture but also allows for growth and expansion. Seeing the importance of forming partnerships with local businesses, he hopes to create a mutually beneficial relationship, then he will work on some more detailed goals.

Beyond technology and business, Hutch is passionate about continuing his community engagement, especially in education, and is eager to inspire the next generation of meteorologists. A large part of that plan involves reconnecting with the community through educational initiatives.


"I made hundreds of school visits over the years and teachers are still contacting me," Hutch said. "There is a way for me to do that in my day and time and give that back to the community by visiting schools and planting little seeds because I remember being that student in a classroom when the local meteorologist came in. So, I want to start something with that up again."

In keeping with the fast-paced changes in digital technology, Hutch is also hoping to continuously advance his technical skills, like animation graphics for his reports. This goal not only involves personal skill development but also potentially collaborating with experts who can assist in this area.

Hutch also shared plans to develop a more robust and user-friendly website, something in the works that he's excited to launch soon—and something that he realizes is crucial in providing a central, easily accessible hub for weather forecasts and information.

But, Hutch's main goal remains the same as it has—his dedication to serving his community with the same passion and professionalism that have defined his career thus far.

Supporting Hutch's Endeavor

How can you support Hutch? The community can simply support him through engagement, from utilizing Facebook's 'stars' feature to joining his lives to sharing his story with your network. Recognizing the unique value of his platform, local businesses can reach out to establish partnerships—a "sponsorship" endeavor that will help to propel him into the sustainable business plan he hopes to kick start this year while supporting the local business.

Hutch Johnson's story is another example of local adaptability and innovation in this ever-evolving media landscape, and he wants the community to know—he's still here.

"I'm still here in Fargo, working," Hutch said, as he explained he often gets questions about where he is working now. People will see his content online and assume he left the city, but we know that is not the case—he's just on a new platform.

As he continues to navigate and shape this new chapter, Hutch remains a trusted and familiar figure in local weather forecasting, now accessible with just a click.

Check it out yourself on Facebook at /HutchJohnsonMeterologist or on YouTube at @HutchsWeather24-7


Get ready to roll out the red carpet, Fargo style at the annual Fargo Film Festival! From the top popcornworthy moments to the engaging, talented speakers, this fest is where the magic of film meets the heart of the state and beyond.

From a cozy gathering in 2001 to now attracting over 300 submissions from every corner of the US and around the globe (we're talking 35 states and 20 countries), the Fargo Film Festival is the place to be for film buffs, aspiring directors, and really anyone who loves storytelling.

What's on the docket?

Everything from animations that'll make your heart sing to documentaries to spark meaningful conversation. Plus, with panels that dive deep into the nitty-gritty of filmmaking, you'll get to geek out and appreciate the art of film in the best way possible. The festival is also filled with a little competition as filmmakers vie for top honors in categories like Best Animated Film,

Best Documentary Short, and even Best Student Film, among others.

"Each night of the 2024 Fargo Film Festival shines a light on the very best of independent filmmaking, showcasing an exciting collection of documentaries, narrative features, and acclaimed short films throughout the week," Development and Engagement Manager Sean Volk said.


FFF24 opens on Tuesday, March 19 with the feature documentary "Show Her the Money," an inspiring and empowering look at women entrepreneurs, investors, and the world of venture capital. Audiences will get to participate in a Q&A with the film’s producers following the screening.

"Scrap," the winner of the FFF’s Best Narrative Feature award, screens on Wednesday night. The film is a heartfelt drama about a young single mom who finds herself living in her car and struggling to hide her

situation from her family. Star and director Vivian Kerr will be here for a discussion after the movie.

On Thursday night, the Festival celebrates short filmmaking with a collection of acclaimed movies that includes the Academy Awardnominated documentary 'Nǎi Nai and Wài Pó.' The evening concludes with the 2-Minute Movie Contest; the rules here are simple, regardless of genre or filmmaking style, each film has to tell a story in under two minutes.

Producer and FFF guest of honor Will Greenfield night for a special screening followed by a conversation about his career. Greenfield has worked with some of the industry’s top talent on "Django Unchained," "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," and "Euphoria."

The Best of the Fest showcase on Saturday night concludes the week with an incredible lineup of awardwinning selections including "Closing Dynasty," winner of Best Narrative Short, and "The Day Of," with actress Jennifer Lafleur joining for a Q&A

The Fargo Film Festival is crafted and hosted by a dynamic team at the Fargo

You don't go into an animated movie like "Starling" thinking that it will be a reflection on loss and the ways that we grieve, but director Mitra Shahidi does a beautiful job of finding just the right balance between hope and sadness. This film also screened in the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, and the program notes describe it perfectly: 'The spirit of a mischievous little girl

shoots down from the heavens to spend her birthday with her family.'

Mitra Shahidi is an Iranian-American story artist, director, and screenwriter based in the San Francisco Bay area. She is a veteran animator with a long list of film festival appearances and recognitions. The jury loved the movie's combination of earnest and heartfelt themes alongside its dazzling and accomplished visual design.

Over the years, I have enjoyed seeing the growth and development of the animation category at the Fargo Film Festival. We are always proud

Our documentary short winner "Hakki Rising" was such a favorite reason. The film centers around Hakki Akdeniz, a Turkish immigrant now living in New York City. Once struggling through homelessness as he searched for a better life, Hakki is now incredibly successful in the Pizza Industry. We hear about Hakki’s trials to get to where he is today, all while being captivated by his incredible spirit. Now as the founder of Champion Pizza in NYC, he’s not only enjoying success. But also helping others, as he remembers

how hard it is to struggle.

"Hakki Rising" was directed by David Larson, who is no stranger to the Fargo Film Festival. David was a guest at the 2017 FFF with this short documentary "Throw." He shared his work again with us in 2020 with "R.A.W. Tuba." David is a founder of Early Light Media, where skilled visual storytelling captures the human experience. And "Hakki Rising" is a tremendous example of just that.

"Hakki Rising" captivated our entire Documentary Short jury. We are first

success doing something he truly loves doing.


"Greener Pastures" was selected as the winner of the Documentary Feature category for a multitude of reasons, but above all, it is a true experience for many in the agriculture industry right here in the Dakota Plains. It tackles human trials that we all go through: finances (or the lack thereof), despair, family, love of a craft, nature, uncertainty, dedication, and perseverance.

Director Samuel-Ali Mirpoorian explores societal themes intersecting time, isolation, health, and science in his films. The way he uses these themes to craft the narrative and show the evocative nature of farming in "Greener Pastures" gave birth to something that gave fresh air to an oft-used documentary topic of the last few years. This could have been a run-of-the-mill documentary showing the effects of the pandemic on the ag industry, but it turned into something entirely special.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone in this film, and if you’re someone who doesn’t think a

documentary can speak to you, I urge you to give this one a shot. If you aren’t drawn right into the lives of those on camera, if you can’t empathize with their situations, if you can’t draw any parallels to events in your lives, I’d be shocked. I’m not in the farming business, but I felt myself asking what I’d do in their situation. I’m not easily affected emotionally, but this was one of several submitted documentaries this year that made me feel in different ways (and yes, the other documentaries plugged this year also make us feel).

It's easy for most to take food for granted, to go to the grocery store and grab everything right from the shelves. It’s also far easier to forget that the raw ingredients must be produced somewhere, by someone.

why Mirpoorian’s prior films have won several awards including a Grand Prize Winner at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis ("Little Warriors"); and his most lauded film thus far, "Sonnie," which won awards from more than 40 film festivals, received the Kodak Motion Picture Film Bronze Award for Excellence in Filmmaking, and three Regional Emmy Awards. We at Fargo Film

poetic short by Zachary Howatt. Honored with the Best Experimental Film, "The Site of Unsure" is both a letter to the filmmaker’s late mother and an introspective monologue

considers the cost of following one’s dreams, and weighs life’s choices against the backdrop of an everchanging world, a visual surreality is woven together using family photos and moving images of suburbia. The surreal landscapes provide visual evidence of the intangible disconnection and disorientation one feels with the loss of a parent or moving to a new city; searching for meaning, and searching for the next

While not all audiences may be familiar with experimental filmmaking, Zachary Howatt’s short film is an excellent gateway for the uninitiated, as he guides the viewer with a steady hand and eloquent prose.


also tries to hide her homelessness from her brother (played by Anthony Rapp) and his wife. Meanwhile, as she is living with her brother and sister-in-law, she tries to hide from them the newfound shame of being

"Scrap" was chosen as our winner because it is a wonderful combination of a kind of tragi-comedy, while also highlighting the tragic problem of homelessness in America. Kerr got the idea to make this movie as she drove around L.A. and saw the homelessness problem firsthand.

She adapted her film to focus it around someone who actually had a

she hustles strangers for money on a school day in the streets of New York City. It's directed by Lloyd Lee Choi, a Korean-Canadian writer and director who has had films play at several festivals, including Cannes, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival.

This film was the runaway winner of the Narrative Short category due to its smart direction, wonderful

and must cope with this new normal. I am confident the FFF audiences will

The two lead performances by Kerr and Rapp are particularly great and wonderful. Kerr will join us for the screening on March 20 and participate in a Q&A about her film.

on-location cinematography, above all, a highly engaging

impressive for a child actor to carry an entire film and by the end of this one, she will have stolen your heart. It's a film that gives you a unique look at New York City, with camera work that is always motivated by Queenie's point of view, never the numerous adults she encounters throughout her day. It also explores how different classes of people react to her hustling, from the very rich to people who are struggling to get by just like her. And, without getting too spoilery, it also gives a look at both the struggles of small businesses in America and an angle on the AsianAmerican experience as it is today.

I fell in love with Queenie from the first minutes of the film and I believe anyone who watches this will do the same. Her curiosity, fearlessness, and confidence make for a performance you cannot take your eyes off of. There are many things from the film that have stuck with me, from a close-up shot of an expensive watch and a wallet full of money to the moment you realize what the title means. It's a film that all audiences can connect with and one that everyone should definitely check out. I'm very happy it won Best Narrative Short and I'm very proud to have it showing at the Fargo Film Festival!


This year’s winner of the Fargo Film Festival’s student film category is "Truth." The film was directed by Tamara Denić, who is a graduate of Hamburg Media School (Germany) where she received a master’s degree in film directing. "Truth" was Denić’s graduation film and was a finalist for the 2023 Student Academy Awards, for which it won third place in the narrative category. The film was also a finalist in the 2023 Yugo BAFTA Student Awards in the live-action category.

"Truth" is the story of Jelena, a photojournalist in Belgrade, Serbia. Her work has met the ire of right-wing nationalists. Jelena’s line of work has put

from Belgrade, Jelena finds herself in an even more politically hostile environment in Germany while still pursuing her career.

Before the jury deliberation, I asked each juror involved with the student film category to make a list of their 10 favorite submissions that we were to vote on to be screened for the film festival. Of all the submissions in the student film category, "Truth" was the one film that appeared on every juror’s list. So it was a unanimous decision. Strong directing, great lead performance, and a powerful

Learn more about the festival at fargofilmfestival.org and keep an eye out online for updates on the event and tickets! | /FargoFilmFest | @fargofilmfest

From Playtime to

arlier this year, local filmmaker Kristian Stenslie reached a major milestone— he got his movie "Void War: Grey Horizons" on a major streaming service, Amazon Prime.

What's more impressive, he shot the entire stop-motion animated LEGO movie from his apartment bedroom... and it is fantastic!

I watched the movie and was blown away by the story arc, attention to detail, and special effects of this passion project... and, better yet, it's the first movie in a planned trilogy.

"The Void War: Grey Horizons" is the viewer's first look into humanity's fight against an alien infection/monster called slag that turns humans into... well, more slag. In the movie, the viewer is thrust into a world where four main characters, Huxley the Soldier, Iris the Channeler, William Slade, and Comms Officer Dan fight for safety and survival on a ship that has been overrun with the infection. Along the way, we are given plenty of bread crumbs for future feature films and viewers should be excited!

We sat down with Stenslie to learn more about his path to creation, and the future for his expanding universe.


with Kristian Stenslies


| twistedbricks.com | @TwistedBricks | /twisted.bricks.universe | @twisted.bricks | Search "The Void War Universe"
Kristian Stenslie




Love, Kathy

Every maker event we do through Unglued gets me so freaking excited to see the new work coming out of our crazy talented creative community in the FM area—and I'm infinitely inspired by the continued growth of it! Seeing Kathy Freese’s work in our Craft Fest application was a whole new level of artistic expression and craft all in one and I’m so excited for you to get to know more about her today.

Tell us a bit about yourself. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life, but I am a transplant to this community. Over the last five years, I’ve grown to love FargoMoorhead, and I really feel like it’s my home. I am excited about my hobbies and you might see me practicing my sick roller skating moves at Skate City—I just learned how to brake, yay! Or, you might find me singing karaoke at Harold’s in Moorhead. In case you were wondering, my karaoke song is Eternal Flame by the Bangles.

The love of my life is my cat Meeko, we have an inseparable bond, and she’s totally going to live forever. I’m also really passionate about pets and volunteer at Homeward Animal Shelter. I love volunteering there, and hope you look into volunteering there, too, because all the shelter animals need hugs every day! I also really love the mall. I am currently a studio member at Aptitude, the Arts Partnership studio space located at West Acres Mall. When I go to work at the studio, I always do my laps of the mall making sure to grab a delicious mall beverage and look at the puppies in the pet store window. I could go on forever about all my favorite places and things in Fargo. If you see me


around the community, I will certainly talk your ear off more!

Describe what type of products you make under Love, Kathy.

Truthfully, my brand name is pretty new. I am still learning how to be an artist outside of school—I just graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead last May. I have a degree in studio arts and typically make sculptures. While my brand name is new, I can say that I’ve been thinking about what to call myself for a very long time. I settled on Love, Kathy because I really want to communicate that the work I make is specially made with care. My art is a kind of love letter and I wanted my name to reflect that. The products I’m making now are home goods and decorative sculptures. My favorite thing to make is for sure lamps.

Tell us how you got started with your business.

I have so much creative energy and nowhere to put it all! I have mountains of yarn, buckets of clay, and boxes and boxes full of finished work at my apartment. My closet is currently overflowing with stacks of boxes filled with sculptures. I spend so much time thinking about projects and crazy ideas and then I have all sorts of items that I’ve made and am not sharing with others. I’d really like to share what sparks joy for me with members of the community.

What is your personal favorite item or piece you've created so far?

Last year I spent six months working on a sculpture about cleaning inequality called "328 Hours." At over six-feet wide and eight-feet long and densely packed, "328 Hours" is the most laborious piece I’ve undertaken and includes hundreds of ceramic pieces molded in the shape of cleaner bottles. The time I spent making "328 Hours" was probably my most intense period productivity-wise to date. Each cleaner bottle represents an additional hour of domestic work that women do, compared to other members of their household and all the bottles together act as a symbol to show the additional unpaid labor women do in the span of one year. I’ll be bringing pieces of this installation to the Craft Fest if you’d like to see it in person.

What is the most popular item you specifically sell?

People really gravitate toward the lamps I make, sculptures of cleaning products (part of the "328 Hours" installation), and wall tiles I make. I am transitioning from art student to studio artist now and hope to learn what community members like now that I’m out in the world making work!

How did you get into making lamps with your work?

This is very nerdy, but I love that a lamp is sculptural while also having a function. When I make with clay I always feel the impulse to make work that’s functional— making home goods, like lamps, gives my crazy sculptures a reason to be sitting on your table. I also love picking out the perfect rainbow cord and light fixtures for each piece.

What's something people would find surprising about your process?

Wiring a lamp is surprisingly easy! Before I learned how, I always felt that it would be impossible to learn—I had a serious mental wall up. I learned how to wire lamps with the help of a mentor and as soon as I had the instruction, it was like the rain clouds parted and the sun shined down on me. This learning experience gives me the confidence to try new things. Now I know I can do things that feel hard because I’ve done them before.

You'll be at the annual Unglued Craft Fest this March 8-9 at West Acres! What are you most excited about for it?

I am so excited about everything, I can’t pick! I am very curious about the other artists who have work at the event and can’t wait to make new friends with community members and other vendors. This vendor show is a huge deal for me, it’s pushed me to grow as an artist. I am nervous too, because this will be my first time selling art out in the world. If you happen to come to the craft fest, come say hi to me! I’ll be happy to see you.

Where can people find your work?

Currently, you can find my work on Instagram! I share my projects and studio practice online. I’m working hard to have a website and listings on Etsy and will have these things very soon!

Where can people find your work?

| @the.kathy.freese

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