The movie ‘Sanctified’ shot in the Badlands features a nun and an outlaw; Fargo Red Carpet Premiere Game – InForum

LOS ANGELES – While preparing for the new western movie, “Sanctified,” Tiffany Cornwell sought out living with a community of nuns in an abbey. Anticipating her role as Sister Hildegard, a fictional Benedictine nun in North Dakota, she wanted a fully immersive experience.

But it was early 2020 and an unexpected pandemic thwarted his plans. “There are quite a few nuns on Tik Tok, so I started messaging them and asking them questions,” says Cornwell.

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Tiffany Cornwell visited the nuns on social media to prepare for her role as Sister Hildegard in the upcoming move “Sanctified.”

Promotional materials and photographs contributed/”sanctified”

It was fruitful, along with further research on North Dakota in 1890. This helped Cornwell discover that Hildegard’s parents had likely immigrated here from an area of ​​Europe recent to a religious schism. This wave of immigrants “had strong beliefs about freedom and the good treatment of humans,” he says, and many became part of the anti-slavery movement in the United States, bringing the beliefs that had shaped them here.

It gave Cornwell a complete image of Sister Hildegard, allowing her to suit the role. “You do the work, then you allow the work to exist in you.”

“Sanctified,” the second North Dakota film produced by Bismarck-based Canticle Productions, follows “A Heart Like Water,” which opened last winter. In it, Sister Hildegard encounters an injured outlaw as she travels through the Badlands and nurses him back to health in exchange for guidance to Williston. The two develop a deep and unlikely friendship.

“Sanctified” will premiere at the iconic Fargo Theater, just like the other, with two performances on Friday, October 14.

Cornwell, who played the title character in “A Heart Like Water,” is also starring in the company’s upcoming film, “The End of the Rope.”

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The movie “Sanctified” was shot in the Badlands of North Dakota.

Promotional materials and photographs contributed/”sanctified”

But playing Sister Hildegard was a special gift, she says. “She has a backbone to her,” and while she was basically “a nobody,” she was “an incredibly strong, justice-driven woman of God.” Tension builds as Sister Hildegard confronts Shaw, “the opposite side of the coin,” who “chooses strength through violence and hate, while she chooses strength through love and sacrifice.”

She credits Nick Swedlund, the director and one of the writers, for creating such a “multi-layered, complex human character.”

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“Hallowed” director Nick Swedlund

Promotional materials and photographs contributed/”sanctified”

Like Cornwell, who recently moved from the Twin Cities to Hollywood, Swedlund spent time in Los Angeles, eventually earning his master’s degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory. His growing family lured him back to the Midwest, where he co-founded Lost Forty Studios, a film studio in northern Minnesota.

Around 2016, Matt Roy, one of the “Sanctified” producers, introduced Swedlund to Dan Bielinski, founder of Canticle Productions and another “Sanctified” writer and actor.

Strengthening of the plot

After reading the script for “Wes and Hildy”, the nicknames of the main characters and the original title, Swedlund tried some rewrites of the film, “an unofficial application to direct”, which became the final script for “Sanctified “.

“Westerns are to America what Shakespeare is to England,” he says, the genre being “quintessentially American,” with a long history of one-word titles. “Hallowed” seemed to work best for a story about a Catholic nun and an outlaw, as well as helping the “biblical spiritual theme” on which the story is based.

Swedlund also increased the tension between the two characters, helping to drive the story forward by “forcing them to stay together” and asking questions such as “Why does one become a nun?”

“I wanted to explore why people not only choose faith, but also that level of devotion to faith,” says Swedlund, a non-Catholic Christian. “This being 1890, it felt more compelling to give (Sister Hildegard) a very traumatic reason” to turn to the faith. So, she invented “a horrible tragedy” that made the character have to choose between “either God or the grave”, and “she chose to dedicate her life to God”.

Swedlund says that the process allowed him to “wrestle on page and screen with both halves of myself; the part that still believes and has faith, and the other part that is full of doubt,” and can get frustrated and even angry with God.” “I have the opportunity for my conscious inner battle to play out on a Western canvas.”

Like Bielinski, Swedlund did not want the story to be didactic. Fortunately, “the (Western) genre lends itself to grandeur, grandiose ideas about faith and doubt,” he says, without preaching.

Ultimately, he says, it took the entire team to make it all fit together in a way that Cornwell describes as “magical.” “It’s great to hear reports that the ‘Sanctified’ set was one of the best they’ve ever worked on,” says Swedlund, noting that leading a film crew is similar to conducting an orchestra, conducting “with strength and compassion.” ”.


A poster for the movie “Sanctified,” which opens at the Fargo Theater on October 14.

Contributed / “Sanctified”

‘We are here to stay’

Bielinski says he’s considering the release of this first trio of Phase I films from Canticle’s work, conveying, “We’re here to stay.”

“I want people to know that making North Dakota movies, like the ones we’re doing, is not just a one-time thing, it’s going to happen for years to come,” he says. “There are still a lot of North Dakota stories to tell.”

For those who saw “A Heart Like Water,” which featured little to no dialogue, Bielinski says everything with “Sanctified” will be bigger.

“It will be a more traditional 90-minute runtime, and the scale will be much larger, with a larger cast of characters,” he says, along with higher “on-screen value.” “‘A Heart Like Water’ was a success, but modest in its intent.”

Bielinski says that Covid forced a delay in the film’s production, so it’s been a long time coming. “I’m excited to get this in front of people,” he adds. “It’s been a great journey for us.”

He describes “Sanctified” as an “exciting and action-packed movie” that conveys a beautiful friendship between two people who would not normally be in the same company. “It’s the story of redemption, through this outlaw’s interaction with a good nun, who is unlike anyone he’s ever met before,” he says, “but his care and kindness really redeems him in the end.” of the movie”.

The argument stands out in our modern world, he says, where many ancient ways and customs seem to have disappeared. “For some reason, we pride ourselves on ditching tradition and formality, but there’s something really beautiful and mysterious about it,” he says. “In a way, it mimics the beauty and mystery of who God is.”

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Bobby Brooks, left, special effects (explosives), with Ray Heiser, gunsmith and cowboy, right, on the set of “Sanctified.”

Promotional materials and photographs contributed/”sanctified”

In his own research, Bielinski found that the Benedictine nuns who came to the Dakota Territory were “really tough.” “It was the Wild West in Bismarck: there were gunmen and outlaws. To come here and establish a school and a hospital and interact with the colorful characters of this city, at this time, it took a lot of guts to do it, and that is reflected in Sister Hildegard.”

“Sanctified” was filmed in the spring of 2021 at the Badlands Ministry Bible Camp, just two days after a major snowstorm. “Fortunately, it got hot and the snow melted when we were filming, but it was scary watching it pile up” just before, Bielinski shares.

The set included guns, horses and lots of stunts, he adds, but it all went smoothly, with no accidents.

Bielinski says that no matter the content or the crew, he strives to bring glory to God in his work and honor the good, the true, and the beautiful.

“It also has to be good storytelling to engage people,” he says, noting that a successful Christian film will appeal to everyone, regardless of faith or tradition, by drawing the audience deeply into the characters, which he believes ” Sanctified” achieves.

The next premiere will be “bolstered and as fancy as we can get,” he says, with some people coming from Minneapolis. “It should be even more of an experience this time.”

What: “Hallowed” movie premiere and red carpet event; Q&A with filmmakers

When: 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, October 14

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway, Fargo

Contact: Tickets, $20, sold at (tickets) or by emailing

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