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Bennett Brien comes to Grand Forks to promote Fighting Sioux documentary

The artist behind the UND Fighting Sioux logo made a stop Friday in Grand Forks to promote a film chronicling the use and controversy surrounding the school's former nickname.

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Bennett Brien, creator of the Fighting Sioux logo, signs a poster for Leah Tanaka Friday evening at the Alerus Center.Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald
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The artist behind the UND Fighting Sioux logo made a stop Friday in Grand Forks to promote a film chronicling the use and controversy surrounding the school's former nickname.

Bennett Brien, the logo's creator, signed autographs, showed pictures of him designing the logo and discussed the logo at an event in the Alerus Center organized by filmmaker Matt Fern.

Fern is in the process of making "Unauthorized: The Story of the Fighting Sioux," a documentary about UND's nickname controversy.

"Bennett was one of the first people we involved with the film," Fern said. "He is an integral part of the story, and we told him that we were trying to raise awareness for the film and he came out here with us."

Over the last 2½ years, Fern has conducted more than 40 interviews and recorded more than 50 hours of footage to build the film.

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Fern said the movie, which is his first feature-length film, is about 75 percent finished, and he hopes to have the film released by the end of 2016.

By that time, UND plans to have a new logo in place for its new nickname, the Fighting Hawks.

Some have called for Brien to design the new logo, something he said he would be open to doing but hasn't given much thought.

"I bet I could come with something cool if they wanted me to," Brien said, sporting a sweatshirt emblazoned with the Fighting Sioux logo. "Something that kind of harkens back a little bit to the old one."

Fern is funding his film through a Kickstarter campaign, an online fundraising tool. As of Friday evening, it had raised more than $27,700 of its $50,000 goal. Funding for the project runs through Dec. 18.

Donors at a certain level will have their name included in the credits, a private screening once the film is complete or even a sketch from Brien.

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