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Documentary eclipses $50,000 goal for Fighting Sioux story

BISMARCK--Donors gave over $50,000 in 30 days to back finalizing a documentary about the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo saga at UND. Documentary director Matt Fern used the online crowdfunding website Kickstarter to start a $50,000 fundraising ...

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A feature-length documentary about one state’s struggle to save a college icon.Illustration by Matt Fern

BISMARCK-Donors gave over $50,000 in 30 days to back finalizing a documentary about the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo saga at UND.

Documentary director Matt Fern used the online crowdfunding website Kickstarter to start a $50,000 fundraising campaign, which had been surpassed by $1,816 by Saturday.

"People realized we're just trying to tell an unbiased story," Fern told the Herald. "We're just trying to make a documentary with no agenda other than to be a good movie."

Much of 'Unauthorized: The Story of the Fighting Sioux' is already complete and many of the interviews were conducted about two years ago. Now, Fern plans follow up interviews and adding a few more new sources before completing production.

University officials hadn't agreed to be interviewed in the past, Fern said, but he plans to reach out again.

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The money raised will go for music rights, post production editing and filming, licensing footage, titles, a donation to the Lakota Language Nest, fees and the rewards offered to donors that range from a digital download of the movie to a pre-release screening and movie poster.

Much of the money Fern received came in during the last few days of the campaign, he said.

"Hopefully by having this funded successfully and establishing social media connections that show we have those people behind us, the university will decide to talk to us for the film," he said.

Fern hopes to have the film finished in about two months and hold the pre-screening viewings at a theater in Grand Forks next May or June.

UND had played as the Fighting Sioux since the 1930s but the NCAA barred its members from using Native American imagery in 2005. The nickname was eventually retired in December 2012 after a controversial legal battle and statewide vote.

Fern started and runs a production company called The Creative Treatment that has made several short films and started making the documentary in an effort to tell the story fairly.

More coverage about 'Unauthorized' including a clip from the movie is available here.

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FILE PHOTO: Sioux gear. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: UND NICKNAME
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