Dickinson State University’s Campus Activity Board and Social Science Department are very pleased to host the Dickinson premier of the locally produced theatrical film “A Heart Like Water” at 6 p.m. in Beck Auditorium Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. The film runs approximately 45 minutes, and a panel discussion with local historians and DSU students will follow.

“A Heart Like Water” is a frontier survival story set in Dakota Territory in 1887. It tells the story of a husband and wife who must fight to keep their family together and their hopes alive as they fight bitter cold, disease, wild animals, and crushing loneliness on the Dakota frontier. But they’re not just fighting for themselves . . . new life is on the way.

The film was shot in North Dakota in the summer and winter of 2020 and was produced by local production companies Canticle Productions and D&N Cinematics.

Writer and producer Daniel Bielinski, chair of Dramatic Arts and fellow in Catholic Studies at University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and founder of Canticle Productions, said that “the film is based on the true stories of North Dakota settlers. In the state historical archives are beautiful and moving first-hand accounts of the brave men and women who came here in the late 1800’s to make a home. Their stories are absolutely gripping and inspiring—tremendous dramatic material for a film.”

Bielinski and fellow producers Dave Diebel and Carson Nordgaard, of D&N Cinematics, put together a team of about 20 crew and five cast to shoot the film. Filming was done at the Logging Camp Ranch near Amidon, North Dakota, and at the Black Leg Ranch, near McKenzie, North Dakota.

“The film celebrates the beauty of the North Dakota badlands and prairies, while also exploring the realities of what it was like to live here in the late 1800’s. Stepping into the shoes of the first Dakota homesteaders can really help us look at our own lives with fresh eyes,” said Bielinski.

It was a priority of the production to use mostly local talent. Dean Bellin, technical director of theater at Bismarck State College, was the production designer for the film. Michele Renner, of Capitol Shakespeare, was the costume designer. Several students from the University of Mary served as production assistants.

Bielinski said, “It is important to us to keep a very high bar of professionalism with our films, but also to use and nurture local talent here in North Dakota. There’s a tremendous amount of talent here, even though the infrastructure for filmmaking is limited.”

Charlie Griak, based out of Minneapolis, directed and edited the film. (www.charliegriak.com) “Charlie brings a beautiful sensitivity to every project he directs, and it shows with this one,” said Bielinski.

This film is the first of three features co-produced by Canticle Productions and D&N Cinematics in the past year. “A Heart Like Water”premiered this winter, “Sanctified”is premiering in spring 2022, and “End of the Rope”is premiering in fall of 2022. All of them were shot in North Dakota and seek to honor the history and culture of North Dakota.

Once the theatrical screenings conclude, the film will become available online. Follow the film on Facebook for updates at www.facebook.com/aheartlikewater. A full list of screenings can be found at the website www.aheartlikewater.com.

“This film allows you to understand life for settlers and Native Americans during that time,” said Steven Doherty, chair of DSU’s Department of Social Sciences and professor of political science. “We choose to show promising and unique films relevant to the community and region, and ‘A Heart Like Water’ fits right into that theme.”

Feature films are normally shown once per semester, and after the specific film is shown, in many cases, it will be donated to DSU’s Stoxen Library so it can be privately viewed by anyone who wishes to see it.

The DSU showing of “A Heart Like Water” is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Steven Doherty at 701-225-9642 or steven.doherty@dickinsonstate.edu.