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This week in Loading Doc, we bring you a few uniquely Midwestern stories...

VANNIN’ TO CANADA: From Chicago-based filmmakers Nick Nummerdor and Andrew Morgan comes a feature documentary VANNIN’ about van subculture. The documentary was entirely shot in the Midwest, mostly in Wisconsin. The film will have its world premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival on Friday April 11th at 7:30 pm.

“I’ve always been more drawn to the subculture documentaries, getting inside glimpse into the worlds I know nothing about” said Nummerdor. “I think the movie is really fun, it’s really tight at about 60 minutes, so they get the whole van world washed over them very quickly.”

In addition to providing a snapshot of the colorful van culture, the filmmakers are hoping to dispel any stereotypes that people may have about vans being “creepy.” Morgan said they help to humanize this culture.

“I think the Midwest characterizes the majority of our characters,” Morgan said. He said though there are van scenes all over the country, in the Midwest the have vans go throughout the winter, and therefore create a rougher and more appreciative group.

Read more about this film here.

HOMESTRETCH FOR THIS DOC: From filmmakers Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, THE HOMESTRETCH, a documentary about homeless youth in Chicago, is almost complete. The film announced this week that it will premiere and be in competition at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival. Two of the characters in the film, as well as the directors and the editor, Leslie Simmer, will attend the screenings.

The film is also in the midst of a kickstarter campaign to finish the film as well as launch an outreach campaign. Click here to support this effort.

MARSH MADNESS: The truly Midwestern documentary EVERGLADES OF THE NORTH: THE STORY OF THE GRAND KANKAKEE MARSH is finishing its festival run, after a successful 2013. From Indiana filmmaker Patricia Wisniewski and For Goodness Sake Productions came a story of the great wetland that extends through much of Indiana part of Illinois.

“The Midwest is the heart and the pulse of the nation and that comes across in our stories,” Wisniewski said. “They are full of richness and etched in hard work, ethnic diversity and character.”

As the festivals die down, with the film showing at the Eco-Film Festival in Indianapolis earlier this month, the filmmakers are now focusing on outreach. They have already completed more than 30 presentations and screenings across the Midwest.

Next Wisniewski will turn her attention to an environmental story about the Calumet Region on the shores of Lake Michigan and how it is moving towards sustainability.

“All the American history stories seemed to be about the east coast or the west coast, but people forgot that those who forged west paved the road through the midwest first,” she said. “We were the first ‘wild west’ and the stories here show it.”

See more about the film here.

Katie Prentiss is a journalist and documentary filmmaker in Chicago working with Kartemquin Films on Mormon Movie. Follow Katie and tell her what you’re working on at @prentkat.