Film Receives International Honors

A film produced by Dr. Gregory Carlson, director of media activities and film studies, is a finalist in an international documentary competition.
In the 2014 International Documentary Challenge, “The Hammer and the Axe” was chosen along with 11 other finalists from a pool of hundreds of documentaries submitted from around the world.

The film is now competing in the online audience awards phase, which is open for voting until July 14. “The Hammer and the Axe” is currently seated in the top half of the finalists.
In May, finalists attended the premiere of their films at Hot Docs in Toronto, one of the foremost international film festivals.

“I don’t even know how to put (Hot Docs) into words,” Carlson says.

Carlson’s production team for “The Hammer and the Axe” included Justin Kavlie ’09 and Preston Johnson ’11. They were students of Carlson’s and he has worked with them on other projects.

“Being able to go from being Greg’s student to being someone who works on a project with him is really humbling,” Johnson says, who worked as the associate producer.

“The Hammer and the Axe” tells the stories of blacksmith Doug Swenson and his apprentice, Tim Jorgensen, who work together on weekends in Swenson’s forge located in Hawley, Minn.

“This was the first time anyone seemed to take an interest in what we’re doing in terms of blacksmithing,” Jorgensen says.

The five-minute film illustrates the craftsmanship of Swenson and Jorgensen, as well as their friendship.

During an interview, Jorgensen referred to Swenson as a father figure, Carlson says. Their relationship became the heart of the project.

“My dad died in 1991,” Jorgensen explains in the film, “so I didn’t have that interaction.”

Just a week ago, Swenson taught Jorgensen how to replace a windshield wiper on his car.

“There’s a lot of time for camaraderie,” he says.

The International Documentary Challenge allows contestants five days to complete their projects. In February, Carlson and his team trudged out to Hawley to capture “The Hammer and the Axe.”

Johnson says he was more than pleased to find out their film was picked as a finalist.

“Our goal was to make the best short documentary (we could) make,” he says, “and it was with that humility that we took the news.”

View the documentary.

Photo credit: Kensie Wallner