A former Sedalian is returning home with a documentary film highlighting the struggles of ranching families.
“Hanna Ranch,” directed and produced by former Sedalian Mitch Dickman of Listen Productions, Denver, Colo., will have a special Missouri premiere at 7 p.m. June 9-10 at the Galaxy 10 Cinema in Sedalia.
The film, a documentary spanning three generations, illustrates the life of Colorado rancher Kirk Hanna as he and his family struggle with urban sprawl and its impact on farmland, ranch land and cattlemen in general. The film demonstrates the precarious balance played out between the American West and the ever increasing population and industrial flow. Moving between current interviews with Hanna’s family, friends and fellow ranchers to flashback home video clips of Hanna, his parents, siblings and eventually his own family it composes the true story of tension between family and the tragedies they face together in true form.
Dickman, an award-winning director/producer, said he will be on hand both nights of the premiere. After viewing the film on June 9 audience members may participate in an informal question and answer session, and on June 10 the Humane Society and Missouri Cattleman’s Association will be present to speak and answer questions.
Galaxy 10 Cinema General Manager Janie Dunn-Rankin said it was exciting to be bringing the film to the theater. She at first thought she’d only run it once but soon changed her mind.
“It has awesome photography,” she added. “It has family strife in the movie and conflict of interest … basically there are a lot of strong willed people in conflict.
“Monday and Tuesday night there will be questions and answers both nights,” she added. “The Humane Society of the United States is sending one to two people to answer questions on Tuesday night … because Kirk Hanna tried to protect the animals, and protect the land.”
The Humane Society of the United States is one of the official partners of the film along with The Nature Conservancy, Slow Food USA, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Grassified Association.
Speaking after the film on Tuesday about farming and ranching issues in Missouri will be Missouri Agricultural Council member Wes Shoemyer and Amanda Good, state director for HSUS. Dickman said members of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association will also be there.
“The intrigue and the curiosity about this was (Mitch) grew up here, I grew up here, so I said I’m willing to give it a shot,” Dunn-Rankin said. “Whether we sell 10 tickets or we sell out the auditorium. We are excited about meeting him, so we worked the schedule around to when he could come and when I could come back to Sedalia.”
Dickman, whose family used to own D and D Beverage in Sedalia, graduated from Smith-Cotton High School and also worked in the Sedalia Democrat’s newsroom in 1998-1999 under sports writer Wayne Kasper. Dickman originally went to the University of Colorado - Denver, to major in journalism, but during his sophomore year he decided to major in film, theater and television. He soon found himself on his first movie set, “Cricket Revival.”
“Which never saw the light of Day,” he said recently by phone from Denver. “But the good thing about that was my wife was the lead actor.”
The change in direction led Dickman to wife Karen Slack; they now have a 3 year-old daughter. Moving into film also lead him to direct and produce “Hanna Ranch” 15 years later. Now with a family of his own, in a release Dickman said he relates to Kirk as a family man.
“I never had the opportunity to meet Kirk, but through the process of making this film, I have come to an understanding of him not only as a rancher, but also as a husband and a father,” he said. “I was able to see a little of Kirk in all his family and friends who opened their homes and hearts on camera to revisit so many beautiful and difficult memories.”
He said he feels it was his background in newsroom writing that lead him to work on the film.
“I think probably my background in journalism,” he said. “And telling stories of real people and situations.”
In the 15 years he’s been working as a director/producer, Dickman has been involved with action, drama, comedy and also directed live theater, commercials for Nike and others, and reality TV.
“I’ve been fortunate to work on about 25 feature films,” he said. “But this film has its own identity. What I like about film being an art form is, it’s an evolution. Taking this documentary, about something that happened so long ago and making it relevant today gives it its own identity.”
Years ago, in Sedalia, he never thought he’d be filming a documentary on ranching and ranch life. He said it is great to be bringing this film back to his hometown to share with others who will identify with some of the struggles the family faced in “Hanna Ranch.”
“The issues that at the center component of the film are happening all across Pettis County,” he added. “When I was growing up I was unaware of it.”
In a director’s statement Dickman said, “‘Hanna Ranch’ touches upon issues of conservation, the environment, responsible food production, family and tragedy — and how to overcome them all …. Every two minutes an acre of land is lost to development and over 500,000 ranchers have been forced to quit in the last 30 years. It’s because of examples like these that people in ranching also increasingly face mental health issues. Through film, we were able to bring these macro issues down to a micro level as seen through the eyes of one man, one family and one ranch.”
The film is produced by Karl Kister and best-selling author Eric Schlosser.
Tickets for “Hanna Ranch” went on sale May 23 at Galaxy 10 Cinema’s box office; they may be purchased during regular business hours. Tickets for adults are $8.50 and $6.50 for seniors and children.