In October 2015, Pioneer sent a three-person production team to Uruguay for 10 days to explore what young people in Uruguay knew or thought about the ongoing 110 year old exchange between Montevideo, Minnesota (pop. 5,000) and Montevideo, Uruguay (pop. 1 million). The project was funded in part by a contribution from Lowell Hellervik, a Montevideo, Minnesota native, and through a travel grant from Partners of the Americas.
The title of Johnson’s documentary was borrowed from a book of photographs by Uruguayan photographer Federico Estol of the same name. In 2010, Estol spent a month in Montevideo, Minnesota documenting the culture of the small midwestern town to create a book that has sold well in Uruguay. Several of Estol’s photographs are featured in the documentary and they are compared and contrasted with the artful videography of Joah Colby and Ben Dempcy, who accompanied Johnson on the October 2015 visit to Uruguay. Editor Kevin Russell, who worked with Johnson in the Upper Midwest Emmy Award winning documentaries My Way Back Home: Caroline Smith and Haiti Love had the daunting task of distilling more than 50 hours of raw video footage down into the 28 minute story.
Montevideo Senior High School students Thomas Hoover and Katie Hillerud are featured in the documentary along with several other ISD 129 students at basketball games and in the classrooms of Spanish teachers Erin Lippert and Pam Dahl. Visiting Uruguayan teachers Gilda Battagliese and Victoria Dieste, who recently visited Montevideo, Minnesota through travel grants provided by Partners of the Americas, are also featured in the documentary. Uruguayan students Sharon Ettinger, Juan Regent and Juan Robles from Montevideo, Uruguay are also featured in the film along with POA Arts and Culture Committee president Marta Arjona.
Partners of the Americas connects people and organizations across borders to serve and change lives through lasting partnerships. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners of the Americas has designated Minnesota and Uruguay as collaborating chapters for nearly five decades.
More information about the current projects of the Minnesota-Uruguay Partners chapter is available through our blog at http://minnesotauruguaypartners.blogspot.com/. Information about Partners of the Americas in general is found at http://www.partners.net/.