26 November 2015
North Passage review by Chris Freeman
North Passage swims upstream from the moment the film begins and creates a refreshingly democratic form of cinema where the greatest revelation of this film is its complete rejection of directorial control. In this film, Kevin Pontuti has turned the controls over to the audience and the critical consciousness of the viewer emerges as the primary source of tension and drama in the film. Contemporary filmgoers who are accustomed to scour films for details that tell them what to think and why will be delighted to find that in North Passage, they simply aren’t there. Pontuti opens up gaps and spaces at critical moments in the film that the audience must fill in order to release the considerable tension that the film provokes. And fill the gaps the audience must, as this psychological thriller confronts the viewer with a dreamy landscape filled with images of trauma and transcendence in a tension-filled dialectic that the audience must resolve. Pontuti’s provocative vignettes are intentionally uncluttered by dialogue which allows his images to echo in the reflective space of his audience and it is here that film’s meaning ultimately resides. The joy of this film is that it can be as dark and cynical or as hopeful and innocent as you want it to be, but whatever you find, you can’t blame it on the filmmaker, you can only thank him for allowing such a moment to happen.
20 November 2015
Purchase or rent North Passage on VXH.TV
11 May 2015
Tickets and more info: The Trylon
30 OCTOBER 2014
North Passage review in El Antepenúltimo Mohicano
02 OCTOBER 2014
Popple Creek Pictures is pleased to announce that their film NORTH PASSAGE will premiere at the Flyway Film Festival on October 26th.
*In honor of NORTH PASSAGE’s haunting original score and to celebrate our recent inclusion in the Flyway Film Festival, we will be making local favorite Kenzie Joy’s gorgeous end credits song “The Woods” available as a free download for a limited time! https://soundcloud.com/north-passage-film/the-woods-by-kenzie-joy.
Equal parts dramatic narrative, Northwoods fairy tale and poetic psychological thriller, NORTH PASSAGE examines themes of loss and redemption from within the battered psyche of Frea, a teenaged girl struggling to come to terms with life after civilization.
The 62-minute film was produced on a shoestring budget using local actors and production volunteers. Like many independent filmmakers, the creative team of Popple Creek Pictures (director Kevin Pontuti, producer Mimi French, writer Charis Collins and DP Ed Jakober) knew they needed to be resourceful, reaching out to local organizations like the Menomonie Theater Guild, which provided help with wardrobe and connections to local actors. Through these and other connections, the team was able to add production value that greatly exceeded the film’s small budget.
In her acting debut, Menomonie actress (and daughter of the film’s director and producer) Talula Pontuti is enchanting as Frea: “Talula Pontuti gives a haunted performance, her eyes narrating her story as she watches it being written for her,” writes Brandon Thornburg.
Local artist and innovator Kurt Buetow was cast as an aging survivalist—a role that plays true to his own character. Buetow is known for his workshops on yurt building and winter survival camping and is currently featured in a solo exhibition at the UW-Stout’s Furlong Art Gallery. “Kurt was a huge component of us being able to realize the encampment location,” Pontuti said. “He was able to provide gear and expertise needed to construct an authentic encampment that included portable yurts, hand-made tools and even a functioning compostable latrine! Kurt was very at home on the set, teaching the crew how to weave rope from natural materials and carve bowls from wood. Sometimes I’d just look over and see him working on something and we’d spin the camera around to get a couple additional shots. He brought an essential authenticity to the project.”
Don Roberts, who plays a mysterious Gypsy, is another well-known local innovator and activist. Roberts was the subject of the documentary film DIRTY WORK about investing new ideas into an old farm and growing a community.
Menomonie-based writer Devin Corbin, in an extensive essay entitled “Lullaby of the Apocalypse: Wisconsin’s Frontier from the 19th Century to North Passage,” points to how the film connects to North woods pioneer lore and the Wisconsin landscape as a character in the film:
“Overgrown meadows rank with milkweed and goldenrod pitch toward cloistered ravines where subterranean springs emerge into an all-day twilight of leafy shade. It is a landscape that national audiences have seldom seen but often imagined, for when Frea explores her family’s ancestral farm she leads us all to a region that gave rise to two of the nation’s most iconic stories of frontier living: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods and Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn.
Both classic books were based in West-central Wisconsin, where NORTH PASSAGE was produced and filmed.
“Wilder was born one county south of where NORTH PASSAGE was shot, and Caroline Woodhouse, who was Brink’s grandmother and the inspiration for the character Caddie Woodlawn, lived on one of the properties seen in the film. That ‘North Passage’ is populated with a mix of historical and latter-day pioneers seems fitting,” Corbin said.
In “When Going Back is the Only Way Forward,” Brandon Thornburg praises the NORTH PASSAGE score for recreating the mood from APOCALYPSE NOW. To create a sound specific to the story, the filmmakers connected with local musicians, who blended unique styles to create the score. The music features original performances by local musicians Jayson Collins, Simon Sperl, Dean Granros, Kenzie Joy and Jonathan Daniels.
Corbin’s essay and another by Brandon Thornburg can be found on the “North Passage” website here : WEBSITE
Additional cast and crew information can be found in our electronic press kit here : PRESS KIT
The Seventh Annual Flyway Film Festival will take place October 23-26, 2014 in Pepin, Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. Founded by Rick Vaicius in 2008 on the beautiful shores of Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River, the Flyway Film Festival was named for the majestic migratory route flown each year at this time as the area abounds with songbirds, tundra swans, diving ducks, dabbling ducks, bald eagles, otter, white-tailed deer, and more.
Last year, the Flyway Film Festival was ranked in the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” by Moviemaker Magazine and continues to grow as one of the most sought-after fall festivals on the film circuit. http://www.moviemaker.com/archives/festivals/the-coolest-film-festivals-in-the-world-2013-top-25-general-film-festival-winners/
The filmmakers held a special cast, crew and community screening event this past January at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. The film was also privately screened this summer at a special event in Beverly Hills, California as part of Pontuti’s summer artist residency at The Lapis Press.
28 SEPTEMBER 2014 New Posters
24 APRIL 2014 The Lapis Press Announces Kevin Pontuti as Summer 2014 Artist-in-Residence
The Lapis Press is pleased to announce that Kevin Pontuti will return to Los Angeles as artist-in-residence for summer 2014. In this role, Pontuti will be completing post-production and printing his latest series of photographs, as well as researching and planning a new body of work. Pontuti joining Lapis for the summer will also provide opportunities for him to collaborate with many of the talented artists in Los Angeles; all to further expand upon Lapis’s 30-year history in the Los Angeles arts community.
“Kevin’s wide-ranging expertise as an artist working in multiple media, coupled with his proven track record as a mentor and educator, made him the perfect choice for Lapis’s Artist-in-Residence program this summer,” said Adam Gross, Director of The Lapis Press. “His willingness to share his knowledge perfectly complements Lapis’s commitment to collaboration. Add to that his reputation and existing relationships in Los Angeles and we knew Kevin was the perfect fit.”
As The Lapis Press Artist-in-Residence for Summer 2014, Pontuti will primarily focus on developing his post-production and printing for his latest body of work. An additional emphasis will be to employ his significant mentoring skills to share the results of the research he has developed over the past several years. By working one-on-one and in small group settings with Los Angeles’s considerable population of established and emerging artists, Pontuti will help reaffirm Lapis’s role as a center of innovation and collaboration.
“Working with Lapis this summer is an exciting opportunity. In addition to continuing the development of my own projects, I plan on presenting some of the research and teaching that I have been conducting for the past five years. Collaboration is the key to expanding and refining any idea—and Lapis is built for it,” stated Pontuti. “I had always heard great things about Lapis. I visited when I was looking for a place to print my work and was very impressed with their studio and staff.”
Pontuti currently serves as program director of the University of Wisconsin-Stout’s BFA in Entertainment Design. Pontuti teaches courses in digital cinema, animation, visual storytelling and new technology imagery creation. An accomplished photographer, art director and studio artist, Pontuti has a track record of successful collaborations on high profile exhibition and advertising projects. Pontuti’s eclectic methods and innovative creative projects span across a wide range of media. Prior to his faculty appointment, Pontuti founded and lead the world-class Los Angeles-based Studio P Inc., a digital imaging and exhibition printing lab, that helped push the boundaries of photographic imaging, exhibition printing and artist collaborations.
Most recently, Pontuti directed the independent film, NORTH PASSGE that is being released this year. He continues to work on photographic and transmedia related projects.
About The Lapis Press
The Lapis Press was founded in 1984 by artist Sam Francis with the goal of producing unusual and timely texts in visually compelling formats. Over time, that objective was expanded to include collaborating with artists to produce limited editions and the fabrication of fine art. Lapis provides a dynamic and enriching environment that enables artists to articulate work in any medium. For more information on The Lapis Press, please visit: www.lapispress.com.
About The Lapis Press Artist-in-Residence Program
Sam Francis founded the Lapis Press with the intent of sharing the power of collaboration with a broader artistic community. Sam saw how the give and take between creative minds made for stronger and more expansive work. In keeping with this tradition, The Lapis Press established its Artist-in-Residence Program to continue to attract creative talent to Los Angeles to work with our print-makers and fabricators. Administered on an informal basis, Lapis works with a network of artists, curators, collectors, and art world professionals to identify and cultivate deserving artists to come to Los Angeles to collaborate. Each residency is tailored to the needs and interests of an artist and may last from weeks to months. Lapis provides the necessary material and support with the hope that the residency will culminate in innovative work and a completed Lapis edition.
Bridget Ritter – firstname.lastname@example.org – +1.310.558.7700 x206
The Lapis Press
8563 Higuera Street – Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA 90232 – USA
# # # #
02 FEBRUARY 2014
Filmmakers hold special cast, crew and community screening event in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
The community where NORTH PASSAGE was filmed was treated to a first class event Wednesday night.
Held in the historic Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, the event kicked off with a welcome by director Kevin Pontuti who thanked the community, cast and crew for bringing the film to fruition. The presentation then took a surprise turn. Unannounced (but not unplanned), professional storyteller Tracy Chipman took the stage and performed a mesmerizing version of the Brothers Grimm tale, “The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids”, as a lead-in to the film. After Chipman’s performance, the 61 minute North Passage was screened to a packed theater. In addition, immediately after the credits, the filmmakers presented Matt Culbertson’s 10 minute documentary, “North Passage: Behind the Film”. After introducing the cast, musicians and creative team, Pontuti invited the community to a reception and after party at the Raw Deal Cafe, which featured live music by Jayson Collins and Dean Granros who were two of the musicians that contributed original music to the film.
11 DECEMBER 2013
23 OCTOBER 2013
Intriguing trailer and essays create buzz for independent film NORTH PASSAGE
Director Kevin Pontuti and Popple Creek Pictures have released a spooky new NORTH PASSAGE film trailer just in time for Halloween. To see the trailer and for more information on the film go to the website, www.northpassagefilm.com
The intense trailer foretells a dark twist in the film, which is being “hailed as a unique and poetic psychological thriller,” Pontuti said.
NORTH PASSAGE is in the final stages of postproduction and is set to release in early 2014.
Anticipation for this dark, northwoods tale has been growing since the release of two essays this fall that link the back-to-the-land influenced film to popular “Laura Ingalls Wilder” and “Caddie Woodlawn” stories, as well as the 1970s classic film APOCALYPSE NOW.
Writer Devin Corbin, in an extensive article “Lullaby of the Apocalypse,” points to how the film connects to north woods pioneer lore and the Wisconsin landscape as a character in the film.
“Overgrown meadows rank with milkweed and golden rod pitch toward cloistered ravines where subterranean springs emerge into an all-day twilight of leafy shade. It is a landscape that national audiences have seldom seen but often imagined, for when Frea explores her family’s ancestral farm she leads us all to a region that gave rise to two of the nation’s most iconic stories of frontier living: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ and Carol Ryrie Brink’s ‘Caddie Woodlawn,’ ” Corbin said.
Both classic books were based in west-central Wisconsin, where NORTH PASSAGE was produced and filmed.
“Wilder was born one county south of where ‘North Passage’ was shot, and Caroline Woodhouse, who was Brink’s grandmother and the inspiration for the character Caddie Woodlawn, lived on one of the properties seen in the film. That ‘North Passage’ is populated with a mix of historical and latter-day pioneers seems fitting,” Corbin said.
Corbin’s essay and another by Brandon Thornburg can be found on the NORTH PASSAGE website.
Thornburg writes in “When Going Back is the Only Way Forward” that the NORTH PASSAGE score recreates the mood from APOCALYPSE NOW. The filmmakers connected with local musicians, who blended unique styles to create the score. The music features original performances by Jayson Collins, Simon Sperl, Dean Granros, Kenzie Joy and Jonathan Daniels.
“The score initially relies on Granros’ sparse, detuned guitar to set the tone. The mood set by the music is reminiscent of APOCALYPSE NOW, another film that explores the internal struggles of a character battered by a world-changing event,” Thornburg said. “But even Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard, war-torn and cynical, may be better off than Frea. After all: ‘I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one,’ Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said in ‘Apocalypse Now.’
“For all the loss she has suffered, (NORTH PASSAGE) suggests that the unkindest cut of all for Frea is that she has no mission. Or rather that her mission is a purely passive one: To accept that the world as she knew it no longer exists and to accept what that means for her,” Thornburg said.
The 62-minute film was produced on a shoestring budget using local actors and production volunteers. Like many independent filmmakers, the creative team of Popple Creek Pictures (director Kevin Pontuti, producer Mimi French and writer Charis Collins) knew it needed to be resourceful, reaching out to local organizations such as the Menomonie Theater Guild, which provided help with wardrobe and connections to local actors. Through these and other connections, the team was able to add production value that greatly exceeded the film’s small budget.
Local artist and innovator Kurt Buetow was cast as the survivalist grandfather and plays a character very true to his persona. Buetow is known for his workshops on yurt building and winter survival camping. “Kurt was a huge component of us being able to realize the encampment location. He was able to provide gear and expertise needed to construct an authentic encampment that included portable yurts, hand-made tools and even a functioning compostable latrine!” Pontuti said. “Kurt was very at home on the set, teaching the crew how to weave rope from natural materials and carve bowls from wood. Sometimes I’d just look over and see him working on something and we’d spin the camera around to get a couple additional shots. He brought an essential authenticity to the project,” Pontuti added.
Don Roberts, who plays the Gypsy, is another well-known innovator. Roberts was the subject of the documentary film DIRTY WORK about “investing new ideas into an old farm and growing a community.”
This is Pontuti’s first feature-length film. He is an established artist and photographer and a professor in the School of Art and Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. From 1999-2009, Pontuti helmed the well-known Los Angeles art production studio and lab Studio P Inc., which created projects for artists and photographers such as Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelly, Annie Leibovitz, Steven Klein, Charlie White, Sharon Lockhart, Vanessa Beecroft and Richard Misrach, as well as commercial clients such as HBO Television, Showtime, NIKE, PUMA, David Yurman, SVEDKA Vodka, Pepsi, and Acura.
NORTH PASSAGE was funded through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2011.
For more information contact: Kevin Pontuti email@example.com 310.365.6568