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Videographer Jim Kron

Minnesota: A History of the Land videographer Jim Kron shooting on Lake Superior.

Bell debuts TV production unit

From eNews, Oct. 12, 2006

The University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History kicks off a major film initiative this October with the formation of a new documentary production unit, the premiere of a new installment in its Emmy award-winning TV series and a Sunday afternoon science film program for all ages.

The museum's new documentary unit--Bell Museum Productions--will build on the foundation created by the University's highly acclaimed "Minnesota: A History of the Land" series, which combined the visual excitement of a National Geographic special with the storytelling format of a Ken Burns-style production. (The four-part documentary series was originally produced by the College of Natural Resources in collaboration with Twin Cities Public Television.) On Wednesday, Oct.18, at 7 p.m., Bell Museum Productions will premier "The Northern Forest" on Twin Cities Public Television (Channel 2) and other public television stations across the state.

A concert to celebrate

Composer and musician Peter Ostroushko will perform a public concert to celebrate the newest episode in the Emmy-award winning TV series, "Minnesota: A History of the Land" at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the U's Bell Museum of Natural History. The concert will feature music from the show's soundtrack written and performed by Ostroushko and a preview from "The Northern Forest," with an introduction by Bell Museum director Scott Lanyon. A reception with light fare and a wine bar will follow. Tickets are $20 ($15 for Twin Cities Public Television members; $10 for museum members). For tickets or information, call 612-624-9050 or visit

The show takes up where the "Minnesota: A History of the Land" series left off by tracing the growth of the northern forest and showing how it was shaped by the elements, including fire, and human activity. The third section of the hourlong program reveals how people who love the woods and want to live there are fragmenting the forests to death. Besides producing the show, the University supplied advisers and on-camera experts, including ecologist Dave Tilman and forester Jim Bowyer. Award-winning local composer Peter Ostroushko, known for his work on the PBS documentaries "Lewis and Clark" and "Mark Twain," scored and performed the original soundtrack. (see sidebar) Upcoming projects for Bell Museum Productions include features on Minnesota's prairie wetlands, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River.

Also this fall, beginning in December, the museum kicks off a Sunday afternoon film series exploring nature from compelling and distinctive points of view. Each month, the series will take on a new topic or theme, ranging from astronomy to living "green."

"Film is one of society's most powerful storytellers," says film-series director Shanai Matteson. "Our series will not only encourage people to see nature in new ways, but will give them a forum to tell stories of their own through community and museum-produced projects." The museum, which is part of the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, will also host periodic film competitions and film premieres and offer movie-making workshops throughout the year.

For more information about Bell Productions and "The Northern Forest," visit the Bell Museum of Natural History."

Further reading Minnesota: A History of the Land