Tom Steward

Tom Steward is the bureau chief of Watchdog.org's Minnesota Bureau, a project of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. He is an investigative reporter focused on waste, fraud and abuse in government and has previously worked for WCCO-TV (CBS) and KSTP-TV (ABC) in the Twin Cities. Follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter.

Provocative Filmmakers Frozen Out of Winona Festival Back at It

Posted by: Tom Steward Updated: April 3, 2014 - 4:13 PM

We’ve seen this movie before.  An indy film director with a compelling script shunned by Hollywood, despite a wall of awards, reviews and box office results.

The  same director already infamous here for being the only filmmaker whose work was pulled and banned by the publically funded Frozen River Film Festival in Winona earlier this year without any objections from the state’s art community.

Phelim McAleer, co-director of “FrackNation,” is back with yet another provocative project that’s not about to get help from Hollywood.

“This is your chance to bypass the media “information gatekeepers” to get tens of millions of Americans thinking about what happened in Philadelphia. Please send a message that we don't have to wait for someone else to tell the stories that matter, we can do it ourselves,” McAleer and his co-directors state in an email appeal that’s gaining momentum behind the scenes.

The screenplay?  The real life story of a convicted killer the directors call the biggest mass murderer in American history—Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The Philadelphia abortion doctor was sentenced to life in prison following convictions for first degree murder and manslaughter.

“The mainstream media or Hollywood don't think this is a story. Even though Gosnell killed more people than Gary Ridgeway, John Wayne Gacy, the Zodiac Killer and Ted Bundy combined.  In a 30 year killing spree, it is thought he killed 1000s of babies,” the email goes on to say.

But a twist in the plot could still lead to the making of the proposed $2.1 million scripted TV movie.  McAleer has turned to the audience for financial support to raise the budget through voluntary online individual contributions on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.

It’s the same method used to fund “FrackNation,” the feature documentary that exposed Josh Fox’s documentary “Gasland.” Instead of raising about $200,000, however, this time the directors need $2.1 million to film a scripted drama based on Gosnell’s trial and legal proceedings. Contributions will be returned if the total comes up short.

A recent project update shows at least one Minnesotan with ties to Hollywood supports the film.  Kevin Sorbo, the actor who grew up in Mound and currently stars in “God’s Not Dead,” tweeted “Pro-Life or Pro-Choice….doesn't matter with what this guy did.”

Less than a week into the 45 day campaign, more than $315,000 has been pledged toward the project.  If they reach their goal, it might just be a Hollywood ending for the anti-establishment venture—without the Hollywood.

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