A Minnesota-made documentary, Move Me, is making its big-screen debut at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.
The film stars and is co-directed by Minnesotan Kelsey Peterson, who at the age of 27, dove into Lake Superior off the shores of Wisconsin and emerged paralyzed from the chest down. Her spinal cord injury completely changed her way of life, as she has always been a dancer, and sought out a career dedicated to it.
“I received my Bachelor’s in performance and choreography at the University of Montana, and then I went on to get my yoga certification before I was injured,” Peterson said in an interview.
“So my life changed really dramatically after that.”
The now-37-year-old said it’s been a constant process of “redefining” herself and who she is “as an artist.” The film focuses on her journey, reinventing herself as a woman and an artist in her new reality. She continues to dance, now in a wheelchair, also working as the co-director, choreographer and dancer on A Cripple’s Dance — a live music and dance production featuring inter-abled artists.
“This film helped me figure that out and push me in the right direction as a person and artist with a disability, so I’m really grateful for that,” Peterson said. She went on to say her hopes for people watching this documentary is to find healing in it, as “we all inevitably lose things in our lives” and to fight off harmful narratives about the community with disabilities.
The film made its local debut Thursday night at the festival, with Peterson and co-director Daniel Klein attending. It will be shown again at the MSP Film Society on Wednesday, May 18. The two will also be participating in a free panel discussion — “In the Frame, the Art of the Personal Documentary” — Saturday at noon at the St. Anthony Main Theater.
You can purchase tickets to Wednesday’s show by visiting the festival’s website. Tickets are $15 for the general public (with a $2 online fee), $10 for MSP Film Society members, and $8 for students (available at the box office only).
Klein, the director and producer of the two-time James Beard Award-winning online documentary series The Perennial Plate, is a former chef who has now created over 170 short films around the world with his co-producing wife, Mirra Fine. He says he met Peterson shortly after making numerous short films about sustainable food around the world, and they became friends.
“[After I met Kelsey Peterson], I was sort of like an informal advisor to this film, which at the time had a different name and a relatively different subject matter,” Klein told Bring Me The News. “And we became friends and I became more and more involved until Kelsey invited me to co-direct the film and take it to where it is now.”
Klein says, in general, developing a friendship such as the one with Peterson leads to success when in the creative process. The movie was made with “a lot of trust” in one another, as working with the rest of the staff in production involved that as well. Others who helped with the film’s production include Minneapolis-born director of photography, Brennan Vance; consulting editor/producer Eli Olson; and editor Nico Bovat.
Peterson reflected on the production of this film, saying she learned many things through the process, including trusting her gut in putting herself out there. She also credits Klein with helping her and being there for her as a friend and professionally.
“I’m so grateful for this partnership in many ways [with Klein].”
The St. Paul-born director/producer also noted a memorable review from someone on the film that has stuck with her since, paraphrased by Peterson as “of course a dancer is able to find balance between acceptance and hope.”
“Reading her review… I cried when I read that line because it felt so good. One, to be seen as a dancer and two, for her to see my struggle and empathize with it,” she said.
Klein hopes that the film is able to showcase the truth of people’s situations, and that people see the beauty and happiness in it that makes life bearable.
The 41st Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival is held in-person and virtually from May 5 to May 19.