It's a long way from Hollywood to Detroit Lakes, and even further from war-torn Yugoslavia to the Red River Valley, but downtown Detroit Lakes will soon play a role in an independent film -- called "Buick Rivera" -- about the aftermath of war in that country.
Despite the drizzle last Sunday, a cameraman, with his camera hooded for protection, perched on a corner of the roof of the Main Street Restaurant building, shooting a "beauty shot" for the film.
Young people in trench coats were on the street assisting in traffic control for the shot.
The script for the movie was one of a dozen or so "supported" by the 2006 Cannes Film Festival -- meaning the festival strongly urged someone to make the movie, said producer Kate Berry of New York.
According to the Cannes Web site, the color movie will be 90 minutes long and shot in Bosnian and English.
Here's what it's about, according to Cannes:
After the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin wall, new nations were created on the territory of Eastern Europe. Communist Yugoslavia fell apart in a brutal civil war between three religious groups; the Catholics, the Muslims and the Orthodox.
During the bloody battles, refugees fled to countries willing to accept them. Many refugees, to save their lives, migrated to the United States, looking for a sanctuary for their new beginnings.
The life of a man in exile requires inner strength and instinctual survival skills while trying to adapt to a new land and its culture.
This film is about such a man, the loneliness he faces in the process of adjusting to his new life in a foreign country, and the question of whether such a process could erase the inevitable nostalgia for home.
The story of "Buick Rivera" is told through the fates of two men, both from the former Yugoslavia, one a Muslim and the other an Orthodox -- the two religious groups that fought for the city of Sarajevo. One night, on a road in the middle of America, their encounter changes their lives.
"Buick Rivera" is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, by Croatian-Bosnian writer Miljenko Jergovic, and has been translated into numerous languages. Miljenko Jergovic is considered one of the most important authors of his generation in the former Yugoslavia.
"Buick Rivera" is a road movie about what happens during a 24-hour period in snow-covered middle America. The Red River Valley area, to be precise.
And the Detroit Lakes shot won't end up on the cutting room floor, because it's an important dialogue shot, Berry said.
The movie is directed by a Croatian, Goran Rusinovic of New York, and has a budget recommendation of $1.2 million by Cannes. Berry would not reveal the film's actual budget. It has a cast of four and the shooting will take just three weeks -- it started March 7 and will wrap up March 28.
And yes, there's a good chance people in this area will get to see it -- in about two years. Berry said she expects the Fargo Theatre to show the film then, after it has made the rounds of film festivals.
"The people of Minnesota and North Dakota have been amazing to us," she said, thanking in particular, Shari Nitrowski of Fargo and Kelly Pratt of Detroit Lakes.
Pratt became involved in the film as a former 10-year-member of the Minnesota Film Commission, which encourages moviemakers to film in Minnesota.
"I got a call because of what I used to do," Pratt said. The film-makers needed flat landscape with a house, and they also wanted to film a scene "right on Detroit Lakes' main drag," she said.
She helped smooth the way for the Detroit Lakes segment.
"I found myself in my old position of Film Board commissioner for a while there," Pratt said. "It was kind of fun."