The Barn Raisers is an Official Selection at the 13th Annual Beloit International Film Festival. The award-winning documentary by Mid-America Emmy® nominated filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films will screen on Saturday, February 24, 5 p.m. at the Hendricks Center for the Arts, 409 Pleasant St., and February 25, 2:30 p.m. at Domenico’s, 547 E. Grand Avenue in Beloit, Wisconsin. Q&A with the filmmakers will follow the documentary screenings. Film festival tickets are available at Beloitfilmfest.org.
BIFF is a ten-day tribute to the power of film and the excitement of independent film from around the world. The film festival has received broad national attention and has been called the “next big thing” by Moviemaker Magazine and has been identified as one of a half dozen alternatives to “Sundance” by The New York Times.
Local residents and visitors from across the nation fill venues to view more than 100 films, and to meet scores of filmmakers who come from throughout the U.S. and as far away as Europe, Asia and Latin America. BIFF celebrates filmmakers in all genres—features, documentaries, shorts— who enjoy the Beloit setting as much as the attendees do.
The Beloit International Film Festival is a unique celebration of this great American art form, designed for the film lover and the film maker.
The Barn Raisers is a companion film to the Rundles’ Emmy® nominated historical documentary Country School: One Room – One Nation. It tells the story of barns in the Midwest by examining them through the lens of architecture. The film explores what building methods, barn styles, and materials tell us about the people who built them, the life they lived, and the role these “country cathedrals” played in the settling and building of the Nation.
Barns were constructed by farmer-craftsmen, professional builders like Wisconsin round barn builder Alga Shivers who traveled from job-to-job, and even architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. The Barn Raisers paints a cinematic portrait of barns and builders, an important way of life that has been largely forgotten, and the film reminds us that these remnants from America’s rural past are still here to be interpreted and experienced.
A number of Wisconsin barns are featured in the film, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midway Barn at Taliesin in Spring Green, the 1897 Dairy Barn at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Old World Wisconsin barns, and the story of notable African-American barn builder Alga Shivers who designed and constructed many of Vernon County's round barns in the early 20th century.
In addition to Wisconsin, the film was shot in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and Michigan. Wisconsin scholars, including award-winning writer Jerry Apps, barn historians James Draeger, Dr. William Tishler, and writer/photographer Nancy Schumm-Burgess also appear in the film.
“The Barn Raisers feels like a hymn to the solemn beauty and importance of these buildings,” wrote Entertainment Editor Jonathan Turner of the Dispatch-Argus. "It paints a beautiful portrait of rural America."
Film critic Linda Cook, Quad City Times, gave The Barn Raisers four-out-of-four stars.
“These barns are a part of the history of American immigration,” said artist Jeremy Marlow who owns the Marlow-Saak Barn located in Waukon, Iowa. “It’s really sad to see these things fall down at an alarming rate.” It is estimated that Iowa loses over 1,000 vintage barns annually.
The Barn Raisers was an Official Selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Interrobang Film Festival, the Royal Starr Film Festival, the Sunback Film Festival, and an award-winner at the Iowa Independent Film Festival.
The Barn Raisers was funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Additional grants were awarded to the project by the Michigan Barn Preservation Network, the National Barn Alliance/Russ & LuAnn Mawby, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Humanities Iowa, the Kansas Humanities Council, the Ohio Humanities Council, the Moline Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Jackson County.
The Rundles are the producers of twelve award-winning documentaries including the Lost Nation: The Ioway 1, 2 & 3 series, and the Emmy® nominated River to River: Iowa’s Forgotten Highway 6, and Letters Home to Hero Street (co-produced with WQPT-PBS).
To order The Barn Raisers DVD, visit https://www.fourthwallfilms.com/dvds.htm.