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Corn Palace, Mitchell residents featured in film

"Farmer of the Year," a featured film, has a lot of Mitchell flavor to it. The film will have a special screening tonight at Mitchell's Logan Luxury Theatres, and those who attend will see some familiar faces and places. "Farmer of the Year" incl...

Hap Anderson, played by Barry Corbin, stands in front of the Corn Palace in Mitchell during a scene from "Farmer of the Year." (Courtesy photo)
Hap Anderson, played by Barry Corbin, stands in front of the Corn Palace in Mitchell during a scene from "Farmer of the Year." (Courtesy photo)

"Farmer of the Year," a featured film, has a lot of Mitchell flavor to it.

The film will have a special screening tonight at Mitchell's Logan Luxury Theatres, and those who attend will see some familiar faces and places. "Farmer of the Year" includes scenes at the at the Corn Palace, and Mitchell residents Cheryl Miller, Ryan, John and Lori Solberg and Arin Winger are actors in it.

Directed, written and produced by Vince O'Connell and Kathy Swanson, the film follows a widowed 83-year-old Minnesota farmer, Hap (played by Barry Corbin), who goes through a transition as he sells his farm and starts out on the path of retirement.

He decides to travel across the country in a 1973 Winnebago with his granddaughter to attend his 65th World War II reunion in California, hoping to rekindle an old flame and impress his old Army buddies.

"He's on a mental and physical journey just because he's in a big transition," Swanson said in an interview with The Daily Republic. "He's just sold his farm, he's lost his wife, and at the same time, he's just like a teenager looking for a girlfriend."

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The comedy-drama takes on the topics of generational differences and learning to transition from one part of life to the next.

Swanson, who grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Minnesota, wrote the screenplay with the Midwest in mind.

"It definitely has that feel, just how the (characters) talk and how they react to things," Swanson said.

Shot in Minnesota, South Dakota and along I-90, the film crew spent two days in Mitchell in 2016 shooting scenes both inside and outside the Corn Palace as the main character makes a stop at the tourist attraction during his adventure across the country.

"It's such an iconic location for this part of the world and I can't believe there really hasn't been a film that has used that location ever," Swanson said. "Growing up, I would always hear about the Corn Palace, the World's Only. For us it was a no-brainer. It was just a great location."

O'Connell and Swanson have been filmmakers since 2009 when they created YellowHouse Films. The company has filmed and produced more than 20 short films and has entertained and educated audiences all over the United States.

A public reception with O'Connell and Swanson will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the second floor art gallery at the Corn Palace. The Mitchell Logan Luxury 5 Cinemas will host a red carpet event at 6:30 p.m., where the couple will introduce the film. A question-and-answer session will follow the screening.

"Farmer of the Year," has been selected to play at film festivals across the country and received many awards, including the Audience Choice Award at the Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival and was an Audience Choice finalist at the Sedona, Arizona, Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Feature Film and Best Actor for Barry Corbin at the Soho International Festival in New York City.

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