Several Quad-Cities artists were honored this past weekend with awards at the 29th-annual Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) award ceremony. Due to Covid-19, the Aug. 8 event was held online this year.

 

The IMPA recognized outstanding creative and technical achievement in Iowa’s moving image production industry, in all its forms.

Tammy and Kelly Rundle.

“Sons & Daughters of Thunder,” a docudrama produced by Moline-based Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films, received seven awards, out of eight IMPA nominations. It won five top Awards of Excellence:

 

  • Best Live Action Entertainment — Long Form (60 minutes or more)
  • William Campbell for Best Original Music Score
  • Thomas Alan Taylor for Best Actor
  • Kimberly Kurtenbach for Best Supporting Actress
  • Kelly Rundle for Best Direction — Long Form

 

Rundle tied for best director with Davenport’s Stephen Folker for “Overdue.” The IMPA said: “These two amazing films were so great that the judges felt one could not win over the other.”

 

Awards of Achievement were presented to Kelly Rundle for Editing — Long Form, and to Jessica Taylor for Best Actress. Kevin Railsback received a nomination for Best Director of Photography.

“We are honored that Sons & Daughters of Thunder and several of the talented creative artists involved in the film project were recognized for their outstanding work by the IMPA,” said producer Tammy Rundle. “The award for Best Live Action Entertainment is shared with the entire cast and crew, including playwright Earlene Hawley, co-producer Kent Hawley, and our supporters who stuck with us during this challenging project. Thunder was very much a collaboration of gifted and dedicated professional artists.”

 

Based on the play by Earlene Hawley and Curtis Heeter, “Sons & Daughters of Thunder” tells the unforgettable true story of the first-in-the-nation 1834 emancipation debates led by firebrand abolitionist Theodore Weld (Thomas Alan Taylor) in Cincinnati, Ohio, and their effect on a young Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (Jessica Taylor) views of slavery.

 

“Sons and Daughters of Thunder” stars real-life spouses Tom and Jessica Taylor.

“Sons & Daughters of Thunder” was partially funded by a grant from Quad City Arts (Illinois Arts Council Agency, Hubbell-Waterman Foundation and Deere and Company); and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. The Moline Foundation and the Shell Rock Community Historical Society served as the fiscal sponsors for the project. “Thunder” is available on DVD at LaneRebelsMovie.com or Amazon.com, and it can be streamed via Vimeo On Demand.

 

Kelly and Tammy Rundle are the owners of Fourth Wall Films, an award-winning and Regional-Emmy nominated independent film production company formerly located in Los Angeles, and now based in Moline.

 

Principal photography for “Sons & Daughters of Thunder” took place in Sterling, Ill., at the Dillon Home Museum, the Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, Ill., the Karpeles Manuscript Museum and Augustana’s House on the Hill in Rock Island, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn.

 

Fourth Wall previously won the IMPA Award of Excellence for Best Documentary for “Good Earth: Awakening the Silent City” and “Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg” (with co-producer Garry McGee).

Stephen Folker, left, and Les Best of “Overdue.”

Folker is an award-winning filmmaker based in Davenport, and “Overdue” last year won two awards at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival (CRIFF). It earned the Gold Eddy in the Pro-Am Feature category and coveted Audience Choice Award.

Written and directed by Folker, and produced by Cedar Rapids-based Beth Hinde, “Overdue” is a horror flick about Carl, a mild-mannered custodian at the Jamestown Library by day and a self-appointed overdue book collector by night. The story follows him as “he makes his list and hunts down his prey, exacting literary justice in a most unique and gruesome manner,” according to Folker. “No one should ever be allowed to forget to return their books on time.”

The film was made on a shoestring budget and shot around the Quad-Cities in the fall of 2016 and through 2017. The cast features Iowa talent, including Robert Kemp (Iowa City) and Dick LaFrenz (Davenport). The lead actor was Texas-based Les Best (“Like Arrows”), co-stars Noelle Lake (New York) and features Aledo-based actress Laila Haley (“Sinister 2”).

“Thunder” won seven out the eight IMPA categories for which it was nominated.

Folker previously won the Audience Choice Award at CRIFF in 2016 for “The Orange Man,” which also won the Silver Eddy.

“Making movies is my passion,” he posted Monday on Facebook. “And like any dream, if you treat it like a goal, each milestone is a step closer to the finish line.

“When Covid hit, small businesses, including mine took a blow. Yet, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to create a short film for PBS.”

At the end of May, Folker filmed “Child’s Play: The Helpers Next Door,” for Iowa PBS, as Davenport teacher Chris Hoenig shares her ideas on the importance of play and how we might be the helpers our kids need right now in navigating a slightly different world.

“I want to encourage everyone, if you have a passion, put aside the naysayers and the self-doubts and worries about what anyone else thinks and go for it,” Folker said. “There’s no right way or wrong way, there’s just you.”

Jessica Taylor of Davenport (who with her husband Tom has appeared in many QC Theatre Workshop plays) also played the lead role in the IMPA winner for Live Action Short Form (out of 15 nominees), “The Last Minute Till Midnight.”

 

It was filmed in the summer of 2017 in Cedar Rapids, in the basement of director Adam Orton, and Taylor said the ending was shot at the end of 2018 in the basement of his new house.

 

“Midnight” is a sci-fi noir short, set during the Red Scare following World War II. Taylor plays a journalist who will stop at nothing to find the truth, and things quickly go off the rails.

 

“It was a very different experience for me as it was mostly green screen,” she said this past weekend of filming. “We had some props, a few set pieces, and a giant green backdrop. The car scene was a steering wheel on a mic stand, a rear view mirror on a mic stand, and a fan blowing my hair. It was surreal to see the final product at the premiere.

 

“The most challenging part of the noir style was the lighting. It has such specific lighting that we’d spend loads of time setting up the lighting for each shot and then you’d have to perfectly hit your mark each time. We had blinds on a mic stand to get the slatted noir look.”

 

Of Orton (who won IMPA best director for short form) and his colleagues, Taylor said: “They’re my dream team! We’ve collaborated on a handful of projects and they’re always incredibly passionate and innovative.

 

“We do theatre and movies for the love of the art, but it is very humbling to receive awards for your work,” she added. “The IMPA is a great way to connect and collaborate with other Iowa artists and see the incredible work being done in Iowa.”

 

For information on all the award winners, visit impa.tv.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.