Iowa on film: New documentary nonprofit launching in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY — A new nonprofit documentary filmmaking organization is turning the spotlight on Iowa.

Kevin Kelley, an Iowa filmmaker and two-time Emmy Award winner, has created New Mile Media Arts, a nonprofit organization in Iowa City dedicated to the art of documentary filmmaking.

“Our goal is to educate and inspire by presenting unique stories of common people in uncommon situations. We plan to make documentaries focusing on stories that begin in Iowa or have a deep Iowa connection, and have impact, influence and expansion into the global community,” said Kelley, of Iowa City, who serves as principal filmmaker and artistic director for the new organization.

The public is invited to a free launch party from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at MERGE Innovation Space, 136 S. Dubuque St.

The event features information about the venture; a sneak preview of New Mile’s first film, “Stout Hearted,” now in production; and see portions of Kelley’s past works. It also marks the beginning of a public fundraising effort.

New Mile Media Arts has received grant funding from Humanities Iowa for its first project, as well as personal donations.

Filming is underway for “Stout Hearted: George Stout, The Man Who Saved Art.” The 60-minute documentary that tells the story of the University of Iowa art student who became the leader of the Monuments Men, a military special forces unit assigned to retrieve art stolen art by the Nazis during World War II. It also explores Stout’s pioneering efforts in art conservation, which elevated the discipline into the world of modern science. Many of his discoveries are used globally to restore masterworks and protect them from deterioration.

After completion, the film will be premiered in Stout’s hometown of Winterset, and distributed on public television stations statewide. It will be screened at Iowa City’s FilmScene cinema and will tour Iowa art museums, where it will be shown with a panel discussion including the filmmaker and art and history scholars.

Kelley received an Emmy Award earlier this fall for his documentary “Mural,” showcasing Jackson Pollock, his painting gifted to the University of Iowa, and his impact on art in America.

“Iowa has so many stories to tell,” Kelley said. “My most recent films have told stories of Iowa’s connection with, and great influence on, the world of fine art, but we are in no way limited to that topic. We invite people to bring us stories, to share their ideas, and to help us find the poignant narrative threads that tie us, as Iowans and Midwesterners, to the rest of the world.”

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