Nonpartisan League topic of docu-drama

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Farm Forum

A century ago, North Dakota’s early farmers rose up against the power of banks, railroads and grain dealers and that historic struggle for self-determination will be commemorated at special anniversary events.

The commemorations will center around screenings of the award-winning docu-drama “Northern Lights,” which retells the story of the resulting Nonpartisan League, followed by a panel discussion on the meaning of the movement and its lasting effects.

John Hanson, who co-directed Northern Lights, will be present at screenings at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer and at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Off Broadway Auditorium in Fargo.

The film premiered in 1978 and won a best first feature award at the Cannes Art Festival. Hanson and co-director Rob Nilsson relied on a cast of farmers and ranchers from western North Dakota, along with three professional actors, to depict the dramatic political uprising against the backdrop of a bitter prairie winter in 1915. The film chronicles the lives of these small farmers as they fight to save their way of life by banding together in a Nonpartisan League. The league’s formation led to the creation of the country’s only state-owned bank, a state-owned mill and elevator and today has a Democratic-NPL affiliation.

Sponsors are the Dakota Resource Council, the State Historical Society, Cinema 100, the Dunn County Historical Society, and the South Agassiz Resource Council.