The Simple Gift of Walnut Grove is a short film about the Danish American experience in the early 20th century through the eyes of Walter Hansen, the son of Hans Hansen a Danish immigrant who came to Iowa from Denmark in 1899 and built a farmstead in eastern Iowa out of native timber and without power tools. It is a stunning place to be, far from the hurry of modern life and in many ways, untouched from what it was 100 years ago. Filming on this project took place over the course of two years. We also had access to a wonderful collection of medium-format photographic negatives from the family that were digitized and restored for the project. It will be part of an exhibit at the Danish American Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa when they open a new wing in 2015.
This project began as a project about modern homesteading but its focus shifted as I followed and filmed Mr. Heffner at his home in rural Iowa and realized that so much about Dave was unique and unexpected. His reluctance about the possibility of becoming truly self-sufficient after societal collapse was really interesting to me.
It was 20 years ago that Lance Mack first realized that he bore a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He was teaching German at the University of Michigan when he had this revelation, and to him the only thing to do was, “to figure out what to do with it.” Follow Lance in this short documentary portrait that explores the intersection of history, family, religion and the ways that these ideas form and shape the way that Lance, (and America) are responding to the present state of economic insecurity.