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Movie Natters: April 1, 2009 Archive

"The Red Tail" about to take flight

Posted at 1:25 PM on April 1, 2009 by Euan Kerr

It's been four years in the making, but "The Red Tail," a Minnesota made documentary about the trials and tribulations of workers at Northwest Airlines is ready to hit the screen.

The film will get a sneak peak showing at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival on April 23rd. The show is to let cast and crew have a chance to see the film, but it is also open to the public. An official world premiere will be sometime in the next six months at a tome and location to be announced.

Writer/producer/director Dawn Mikkelson says when they started shooting in the fall of 2005 they meant to make a film about mechanics and cleaners striking against NWA. However she says the project "evolved exponentially" in the time since, and is now about the challenges of outsourcing and globalization.

The action revolves around mechanic Roy Koch who was one of the 4,000 union members who struck in August 2005. Roy is the father of the film's other writer/producer/director Melissa Koch. The film follows the 444 day strike, and then what happened after all the union members lost their jobs.

Mikkelson says they shot all the way through last year, until the day after the announcement of the Delta takeover of NWA. She says it's surprising how "The Red Tail" evolved over the years, but she feels it's a much stronger film now. She admits it's a tough story, and involves a lot of hard feelings, however through it all she says the Koch family members were really just motivated by a desire to know what went wrong. She says the workers are tired of being treated like pawns.

One of the important components of the film is when Roy Koch travels to Hong Kong and meets the mechanic who now has his job. There he learns the mechanics are themselves worried that their jobs are about to be outsourced to China.

Mikkelson says the theatrical film is finished, and they are now working on a shorter broadcast version. The film will go on the festival circuit, and then enjoy what she calls a "semi-theatrical" release in the fall, touring the country in shows done in collaboration with schools, unions, and other sponsors. The broadcast version is intended for distribution both in the US and overseas.

The actual time of the screening on the 23rd has not been finalized, as the MSPIFF team is still slotting films, but it will likely be around 7pm. We are hoping to air a Cathy Wurzer interview with Melissa Koch closer to the screening.

"The Red Tail" Official Trailer from The Red Tail on Vimeo.

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