‘Sanctified’ movie filmed in Badlands features a nun and outlaw; Fargo red-carpet premiere set – InForum


LOS ANGELES – While preparing for the new western ‘Sanctified,’ Tiffany Cornwell wanted to live with a community of nuns in an abbey. In anticipation of her role as Sister Hildegard, a fictional Benedictine nun in North Dakota, she wanted an immersive experience.

But it was early 2020 and an unexpected pandemic thwarted their plans. “There are quite a lot of nuns on Tik Tok, so I started messaging them and asking them questions,” says Cornwell.

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Tiffany Cornwell visited nuns via social media in preparation for her role as Sister Hildegard in upcoming film Sanctified.

Contributed / “sanctified” promotional materials and still images

It was fruitful, along with additional research into North Dakota in 1890. This helped Cornwell discover that Hildegard’s parents had probably immigrated here from an area of ​​Europe fresh from a religious divide. This wave of immigrants “had a strong belief in liberty and good treatment of people,” she says, and many became part of the anti-slavery movement in America, bringing with them beliefs that had shaped them here.

It gave Cornwell a well-rounded picture of Sister Hildegard and allowed her to settle into the role. “You do the work, then you allow the work to exist within you.”

Sanctified, the second North Dakota film to be produced by Bismarck-based Canticle Productions, follows A Heart Like Water, which premiered last winter. In it, on a journey through the Badlands, Sister Hildegard meets a wounded outlaw and nurses him back to health in exchange for being led to Williston. The two develop a deep and unusual friendship.

“Sanctified” premieres on Friday, October 14th with two screenings at the legendary Fargo Theatre.

Cornwell, who played the lead character in A Heart Like Water, also has a starring role in the company’s upcoming film, The End of the Rope.

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The film “Sanctified” was filmed in the North Dakota Badlands.

Contributed / “sanctified” promotional materials and still images

But playing Sister Hildegard was a special gift, she says. “She has a backbone” and although she was basically “a nobody,” she was “an incredibly strong, righteousness-driven woman of God.” Tension builds as Sister Hildegard Shaw confronts “the other side of the coin” who “chooses strength through violence and hate, while she chose strength through love and sacrifice.”

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She credits Nick Swedlund, the director and one of the writers, with creating such a “complex, layered human character.”

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Sanctified director Nick Swedlund

Contributed / “sanctified” promotional materials and still images

Like Cornwell, who recently relocated to Hollywood from the Twin Cities, Swedlund spent time in Los Angeles, eventually earning his master’s degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory. His growing family lured him back to the Midwest, where he co-founded Lost Forty Studios, a film studio in northern Minnesota.

Around 2016, Matt Roy, one of the producers of Sanctified, introduced Swedlund to Dan Bielinski, founder of Canticle Productions and another screenwriter and actor of Sanctified.

strengthening the plot

After reading Wes and Hildy’s screenplay, nicknames for the main characters, and the original title, Swedlund attempted some rewrites of the film, “an unofficial bidding to direct,” which became the final screenplay for Sanctified.

“Westerns are to America what Shakespeare is to England,” he says, although the genre is “very typically American,” with a long history of one-word titles. “Sanctified” seemed to work better for a story about a Catholic nun and an outlaw, along with supporting the “thematic spiritual, biblical concept” the story was intended to cling to.

Swedlund also increased the tension between the two characters and helped drive the plot by “forcing them to stay together” and asking questions like “Why do you become a nun?”

“I wanted to find out why people choose not only faith, but also this level of commitment to faith,” says Swedlund, a non-Catholic Christian. “Since this was 1890, it felt more compelling to give (Sister Hildegard) a very traumatic reason” for turning to the faith. So he invented “a terrible tragedy” that forced the character to choose between “either God or the grave,” and “she chose to dedicate her life to God.”

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Swedlund says the process allowed him to “wrestle on the side and wrestle with the two halves of my own self; the part that still believes and has faith and the other side that’s full of doubts,” and can get frustrated and even angry with God.” “I can let my conscious inner struggle play out on a Western canvas.”

Like Bielinski, Swedlund did not want a didactic story. Luckily, “the (Western) genre lends itself to grandeur, to larger-than-life ideas about belief and doubt,” he says, without being preached.

Ultimately, he says, it took the entire crew to bring it all together in a way that Cornwell describes as “magical.” “It’s cool to hear reports that the set of ‘Sanctified’ was one of the best they’ve ever worked on,” says Swedlund, noting that directing a film crew is akin to directing an orchestra that ” with strength and compassion”.

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A poster for the film “Sanctified” which premieres at the Fargo Theater on October 14th.

Contributed / “Hallowed”

‘We are here to stay’

Bielinski says he views the release of this first trio of films as Phase I of Canticle’s work, conveying, “We’re here to stay.”

“I want people to know that making North Dakota movies like we’re doing isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s going to happen for years,” he says. “There are still many stories to be told from North Dakota.”

For those who watched “A Heart Like Water,” which featured little to no dialogue, Bielinski says everything will be bigger with “Sanctified.”

“It’s going to be a more traditional 90-minute run length, and the scale is just going to be a lot bigger, with a larger cast of characters,” he says, along with greater “on-screen value.” “‘A Heart Like Water’ was successful but humble in purpose.”

Bielinski says Covid forced a delay in the film’s production so it took a long time. “I’m looking forward to showing this to people,” he adds. “It’s been quite a journey for us.”

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He describes Sanctified as an “exciting, action-packed film” that conveys a beautiful friendship between two people who wouldn’t normally work at the same company. “It’s the story of redemption through this outlaw’s interaction with a good nun unlike any he’s ever met before,” he says, “but her care and kindness really redeems him at the end of the film.”

The plot stands out in our modern world, he says, where many old forms and customs seem to have disappeared. “For some reason we’ve grown proud of the tradition and formality of chucking, but there’s something really beautiful and mysterious about it,” he says. “In a way, it mimics the beauty and mystery of who God is.”

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Bobby Brooks, left, special effects (explosives), with Ray Heiser, gunsmith and wrangler, right, are pictured on the set of Sanctified.

Contributed / “sanctified” promotional materials and still images

In his own research, Bielinski discovered that the Benedictine nuns who came to Dakota were “really tough.” “It was the Wild West in Bismarck—there were gunslingers and outlaws. To come here and start a school and a hospital and to interact with the colorful characters of this city took a lot of courage at that point and that is reflected in Sister Hildegard.”

“Sanctified” was filmed at Badlands Ministry Bible Camp in spring 2021, just two days after a major snowstorm. “Thankfully it was warmer and the snow was melting when we were shooting, but it was scary to see it building up,” says Bielinski.

The set included guns, horses and lots of stunts, he adds, but everything went smoothly with no accidents.

Bielinski says that regardless of content or crew, he strives to give glory to God in his work and to honor the good, true, and beautiful.

“It also has to be good storytelling to engage people,” he says, noting that a successful Christian film will appeal to everyone, regardless of faith or tradition, by drawing audiences deeply into the characters, which he believes ” Sanctified” achieved.

The upcoming premiere will be “beefed up and as stylish as possible,” he says, with some folks coming from Minneapolis. “This time it should be even more eventful.”

What: Sanctified film premiere and red carpet event; Q&A with filmmakers

When: 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday 14 October

Where: The Fargo Theatree, 314 Broadway, Fargo

Contact: Tickets, $20, available at https://www.sanctifiedfilm.com/ (tickets) or by emailing [email protected]





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