Soo Film Festival 2022

Block 12-Driftless

Feature program, 75 min, Not rated  Q&A with filmmaker Harper Philbin


About This Program

In this feature-length drama, rangers at a state park deal with understaffing, budget cuts, and a busy 4th of July weekend.


Director: Harper Philbin

Narrative Feature, United States, 2020, 75 min, Color, Drama, Adventure, Crime, Political

Nova Abbey, a park ranger at work during a state government shutdown on a busy 4th of July weekend, protects the park from the people and the people from each other.

Great Lakes Connection   

The film was shot in West Michigan with a Michigan film crew. Many of the cast members are also from Michigan. The filmmaker is a native of Illinois, a Great Lakes State, and currently teaches in Michigan.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Harper Philbin
Writers: Harper Philbin, John Dufresne
Producer: Peter Hawley
Key Cast: Monique Candelaria, Mickey O' Sullivan, Greg Rogers, James Dolbeare, Anthony Parker

Director Harper Philbin
Director Biography

This Oak Park, Illinois, native started making films in the 1970s with his parents' Super-8 camera. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in film from the University of Iowa in 1979, he spent three years in Chicago, two in New York City, and six in Los Angeles working as a video editor and camera operator.

He continued to write and direct independent films on the side, including The Law of Nature (1986), a documentary about Yosemite National Park rangers that aired nationally on PBS in 1986. He moved back to Chicago in 1990 and began teaching as an adjunct professor at Columbia College before returning to school to earn a master of fine arts degree in film production at Southern Illinois University.

Since 1997, he's been an associate professor of film at Grand Valley State University in Michigan where he runs the school's annual Summer Film Project that brings students, faculty and industry professionals together to collaborate on a movie. After making ten award-winning narrative shorts, Philbin produced and directed his first feature-length film, To Live and Die in Dixie (2008), which went on to win two Best Feature awards.

  • Chandler (Arizona) International Film Festival, January 23, 2021, Best Actress nominee
  • Prairie State Film Festival (DeKalb, Illinois), November 21, 2020, Best Director nominee
  • Borrego Springs (California) Film Festival, April 17, 2021
  • Adrian (Michigan) International Film Festival, April 25, 2021
  • Denali (Alaska) Film Festival, July 17, 2021, Best Feature/Best Actor
  • Mindfield Film Festival (Albuquerque, New Mexico), August 26, 2021, Best Feature/Best Actress
  • Hell's Half Mile Film Festival (Bay City, Michigan), September 24, 2021
  • Royal Starr Film Festival (Royal Oak, Michigan), September 11, 2021, Best Supporting Actor
  • Central Michigan International Film Festival (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan), February 19, 2022

Poster: Driftless

More Info:


Sunday, Sept. 18, 4:30pm

Soo Theatre

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