'Fargo' Movie Anniversary Celebrated with Screening

The people of Fargo, N.D., celebrated the 10th anniversary of the movie Fargo by projecting the film on the side of a hotel last night so people could watch it outside. Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Reha reports.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

If you've seen the movie Fargo, you understand why it's become such a cult favorite. If you haven't seen that movie, let's just say we'll try to chip away at that problem right now. It's the story of a thieving car salesman.

(Soundbite of movie "Fargo")

Mr. WILLIAM H. MACY: (acting as car salesman Jerry Lundegaard) [in movie clip of "Fargo"] The deal was: the car first, then the 40,000-like as if it was the ransom.

INSKEEP: And the pregnant sheriff who pursues him.

Unknown Actor: (acting as deputy) [in movie clip] See something down there, Chief?

Ms. FRANCES MCDORMAND: (acting as Sheriff Marge Gunderson) No, I just think I'm gonna barf.

INSKEEP: And it suggests that life in the Upper Midwest is not quite as placid as it seems. That might explain why a film festival in Fargo, North Dakota, celebrates the film's tenth anniversary, as Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Reha watched.

BOB REHA reporting:

The last hours before the opening of the Fargo Film Festival are always hectic. Margie Bailey is the executive director of the Fargo Theater--it seems like she has a phone permanently attached to her ear.

Ms. MARGIE BAILEY (Executive Director, Fargo Theater): Yeah. So, we probably better sit down and make sure that we're all on the same page with this.

REHA: Bailey is the first to acknowledge you won't see any A-list movie stars or moguls at the festival, nor is it a place where mega deals are made. But Bailey says if you want to see some of the best movies you've never heard of, or check out some unique entertainment, this is the place to be.

Ms. BAILEY: We have Gayle Knutson who's doing If There Were No Lutherans, Would There Be Green Jell-O? We have The World's Most Dangerous Polka Band.

REHA: Bailey says if there's one word that describes the Fargo Film Festival, it's quirky.

Ms. BAILEY: We here in Fargo are good at quirky, because I think that we have a good sense of self. We appreciate our strengths and we understand our weaknesses, and we celebrate that.

REHA: Bailey admits it doesn't get quirkier than showing a movie on the side of a 17-story building. In keeping with the spirit of the movie, no RSVP was required. But a WSYB, yah, sure, you betcha, would be appreciated. Don't you know?

(Sound bite of traffic)

REHA: Finding a place to watch the film was an adventure; traffic in downtown Fargo was a little heavier than normal. People turned out early to find a prime place to watch from their car. Chris Puckett (ph) and Rich Bateman found a place behind the police station.

Mr. RICH BATEMAN (Fargo Film Festival Attendee): This is kind of strange. It's different.

Ms. CHRIS PUCKETT (Fargo Film Festival Attendee): Something I've never done before, that's for sure.

Mr. BATEMAN: It is kind of a strange idea. I'm a little bit baffled at why they are doing it. I don't know.

Ms. PUCKETT: Well, it's because it's ten, isn't it because it's the ten-year anniversary today that it was released?

Mr. BATEMAN: Where they're showing it is kind of strange, and the outdoor thing.

Ms. PUCKETT: But it's Fargo.

REHA: Even the weather cooperated. Of course, it snowed. It had to. This is Fargo.

Ira Krinksy(ph) and his 11 year old son, Matt, were looking for a warm place to watch the movie. Matt had never seen the film. He was excited at the idea of seeing it for the first time.

Mr. MATT KRINKSY (Fargo Film Festival Attendee): Fun, cause then you get to maybe miss school tomorrow.

REHA: When the movie was released ten years ago, some folks were offended by the way the actors spoke. They felt the accents were over done and made Fargo residents look foolish. Ira Krinksy says he's not bothered by the accents.

Mr. IRA KRINSKY (Fargo Film Festival Attendee): And it does sound a whole lot like my in-laws when I get together at a family function.

(Sound bite of "Fargo" film music)

REHA: To hear the film you can tune in to one of the local rock stations on your car radio. Some folks were lucky. They were winners at the station's contest for VIP seating in a fourth floor office facing the screen. Brent Barth(ph) was one of the winners. He says it's a little different viewing the movie this way.

Mr. BRENT BARTH (Fargo Film Festival Attendee): If you're sitting outside, you're kind of being with the movie. You know? It's snowing right now. A little cold, you'd be in tuned with the movie better.

REHA: Festival organizers were pleased with the event, but they have a problem. What will they do next year to top this?

For NPR News, Bob Reha, Fargo, North Dakota.

(Sound bite of "Fargo" film music)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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