Storm Lake

Filmmaker: Beth Levison, Jerry Risius
Runtime: 90 min

Synopsis: Dark clouds hang over the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its fair share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. The people of Storm Lake confront a changing community as global forces threaten their precarious existence. Enter: 63-year-old Pulitzer-prize winner Art Cullen and his family-run newspaper, The Storm Lake Times. Day-in and day-out, the Cullens deliver local news and biting editorials on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. Come hell or pandemic, they’ll fight to preserve this town they call home. There’s simply too much at stake.

About the Filmmakers

Beth Levison is an NYC-based Emmy and Peabody-winning producer/director. Most recently, she produced THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is streaming now on Netflix. Prior to that, she directed and produced STORM LAKE with director/DP Jerry Risius, which broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens and was nominated for a Peabody Award. Additional producing credits include WOMEN IN BLUE (Independent Lens, 2020), Emmy-nominated MADE IN BOISE (Independent Lens, 2019) and 32 PILLS (HBO, 2017). Levison is a co-founder of the Documentary Producers Alliance, producing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, and a member of AMPAS.

Jerry Risius was born on a farm on the Iowa side of the Iowa/Minnesota border. He grew up working on the family farm, went to the University of Iowa and then joined the Peace Corps/Ecuador in the mid-1980s. In 1990, he moved to NYC and began to pursue a career in documentary filmmaking. He worked along side many talented Directors and DPs as a Camera Assistant, after he purchased a Sup16mm camera, he soon began to shoot. Presently, he has over a 25 year career dedicated to documentaries. His clients include: PBS (Independent Lens, POV, NOVA, Frontline, etc.) HBO, Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon, Showtime, among others. He lives in Brooklyn NY with his wife and daughters.