Collective Development Incorporated’s WWII home front drama, ‘Silent Night In Algona’ (based on true events), filmed on location in Kossuth County (north central Iowa, near MN) where the 1944-45 events played out, was a massive effort.
Cast, crew, extras and post-production artists numbered nearly 300 people. Artists from 17 states and two countries (Germany and Canada) worked on the project in some manner.
Since its impressive World Premiere theatrical release Friday, Dec. 9 in Algona, IA, the film has played to sell-out audiences in 50 theaters in three states. More select theaters in several other states continue to open the film on the big screen each week. But when it opens Sat., Feb. 4 for a one-week run at NCG Theaters in Owosso, it will take on a special meaning for three Shiawassee County men, as well as 8-year-old Jackson Spitler-Ward of Chesaning making his film debut as a Jewish Holocaust victim.
The film, shot on location in Oct.-Nov. 2021, is directed and co-produced by Corunna’s Anthony (Tony) Hornus in the follow-up to his 2019 CDI-produced multiple award-winning drama, ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend.’
Hornus, a true crime author and Associated Press award-winning journalist for 30 years with The Argus-Press newspaper in Owosso before early retirement in 2006 to work on film projects, has partnered with CDI for 24 years as a writer, actor, producer and director on nearly 20 feature films and two documentaries. One of which took him to war-torn Afghanistan.
Daniel G. Chipman, who has worked with Hornus and CDI on several occasions, has come a long way since he was a 16-year-old Production Assistant on ‘An Ordinary Killer,’ written by Hornus based on his book of the same name about the cold case rape and killing of a young Michigan woman. Chipman put his stamp on the film as Director of Photography, bringing out the vibrant hues of an Iowa fall.
Curran Jacobs of Owosso, a school teacher and wrestling coach when not on set, is the male lead. He plays Rudy Tietz, a farmer with an injured back, who struggles to get the crops off the field before they spoil. With his marriage also shaky, he sets out on a plan to put German POWs from Camp Algona – the enemy – on family farms to help with the harvest. Much to the chagrin of some townsfolk, including his wife Clara (Cassie Dean).
Jacobs played a defense attorney in MBF for Hornus and he recently premiered his documentary, ‘For the Love of Catch,’ telling the story of “catch-as-catch can” wrestling and its influence on modern wrestling’s evolution.
“This is our ‘Hometown World Premiere’” said Hornus. “That’s exciting, but you’re always a bit nervous about the reception your work will receive. Each film we do is like a child. You love them all, but they all have their own ‘personality.’ I’m especially optimistic about this story (written by CDI’s CEO DJ Perry), because it’s been getting rave responses from Midwest audiences. People are laughing, crying, connecting with the characters – both the Americans and Germans – who were trying to get through a very dark chapter in world history.”
The film’s tagline is: “They came as the enemy, many left as friends.”
On opening day, Saturday, Feb. 4, there will be two screenings, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Hornus said he and many of the cast and crew will be in attendance.
Advance tickets (advised) are on sale now at NCG’s box office or online. For shows Feb. 5-Feb. 9, check the NCG website for times.
Coincidentally, there was a German POW camp in the men’s hometown. It was at the Owosso Speedway and there were a couple of ‘episodes’ from the POWs and townsfolk reported it in newspapers. Not unlike Camp Algona.