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Kearney locals bringing classic novel to film with changes to character's sexuality

Fortunate Country (KHGI)

It is a story most Nebraskans know, but it is being re-imagined with some big changes to one character's sexuality.

It is a short film with strong Nebraska roots. The writer, producer, director and lead actors, all from our home state, and they are coming together for this project.

"Fortunate Country is a short film that is written, directed and produced all by Nebraska women," said writer, producer Kristin Tripe.

"Kristin and I actually grew up together," said cinematographer, John Beatty. "We both went to Kearney High School and it's very important for us to like come back and make this film together. This is our first collaboration together, Kristen as the writer and producer and myself as the cinematographer."

It is a modern interpretation of Willa Cather's O Pioneers.

"I was just really inspired by the people in that story and so I just kind of stole a sub–plot from that novel and we made it the focus of our film," said Tripe.

It is a romantic drama following the complex lives of three Midwestern women.

"It focuses on one character who's just graduated college and she returns to her small home town to just kind of figure out what's next for her," said Tripe. "It really showcases Nebraska's beauty and the kind of pace and feeling of small town life in Nebraska and it focuses on these women's lives and their relationships with each other."

However, the film breaks from the book by changing one character's gender, and important shift for this writer.

"You kind of just realize they're more than just friends that they have feelings for one another," said Tripe. "Something that's very important to me in these characters and in this story is that Erin and Mia's sexual orientation or sexual preference is one tiny aspect of who they are. They are nuanced, complicated, three dimensional characters who just happen to be in love with someone of the same sex."

To tell this story, these Kearney natives are asking for help.

Right now, they're in the final week of crowdfunding through indie–go–go and they're looking for help on set.

"We need a few more crew members that just want to help out on set and then we will need extras," said Tripe. "Yeah, and we definitely want to use as many local people as want to be extras as possible because I think it'll be really fun for them to be on set and it'll be really fun for us to hear their stories about living in Nebraska."

Fortunate Country is scheduled to be filmed the first week in June with sites outside Kearney, in Ravenna and other small towns.

If you'd like to learn more about this film, help during production, or donate, click here.

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