Mid-America Emmy-winning filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films in Moline will preview excerpts from their new documentary “Resurrecting Forest Grove” during a free online presentation Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
The one-hour Humanities Iowa program — “Resurrecting Forest Grove, Or the Impossible & Improbable Restoration of a Roaring ‘20s Country School” — will include a Q&A with the Rundles, Iowa historian Leo Landis, and Forest Grove preservationist Sharon Andresen. Viewers can attend the event via Fourth Wall Films’ Facebook page.
The Rundles first visited the one-room Forest Grove School in Bettendorf in 2009, while filming snow scenes for their Mid-America Emmy-nominated historical documentary “Country School: One Room – One Nation.” The 1873 school (at 24040 Forest Grove Drive), which closed in 1957, appeared to be on the brink of collapse.
In 2012, a small group of local preservationists, coordinated by Andresen, decided the Forest Grove School No. 5 could, and should, be saved. After more than seven years of work, the building was refurbished to its 1920s appearance at a cost of $250,000, finished in late 2019, and was reopened to the public on May 22, 2021.
“Resurrecting Forest Grove” will cinematically tell the dramatic true story behind the seemingly-impossible task of restoring the vintage one-room school to its 1920s appearance. Footage and interviews gathered over an 10-year period will depict the problems they faced and the solutions they employed as they attempted to bring this rural icon back to life.
The surprises and successes of this challenging restoration project are intercut with a vivid historical portrait of the ‘Roaring 20s’ in America and the Quad Cities region.
“It has been an exciting experience to watch and document the ‘resurrection’ of Forest Grove over the past seven years,” producer Tammy Rundle said in a release this week. “It took a dedicated and hard-working group of visionaries to bring the school back to life. It is an inspirational story that will make you think twice about saying, ‘It can’t be done.’”
“Resurrecting Forest Grove” received partial funding from Humanities Iowa and is slated for release in 2022.
Moline-based Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films received their first Mid-America Emmy award in late October for their short documentary “Over & Under: Wildlife Crossings,” in the Environmental/Science category. The Rundles’ films have been nominated for Emmys nine times altogether (including a best musical score one last year).
The Mid-America Emmys (a chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) represent Missouri, Iowa, parts of Illinois (outside Chicago), Arkansas and Louisiana.
“Our hope was that the film would bring more awareness to this important environmental subject and inspire action to save human and animal lives,” said director Kelly Rundle. “Over & Under” aired on WQPT on Jan. 20, 2021.
“Over & Under: Wildlife Crossings” (a nine-minute 2020 film) examines wildlife crossings by exploring two successful yet different approaches to turtle crossings under state highways near Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Stevens Point, Wis. The film was partially funded by a grant from BeWildReWild/Big River Connectivity and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.
For more information about the Forest Grove School documentary, visit www.ForestGroveMovie.com and the film’s Facebook fan page. Fourth Wall Films is an independent film and video production company formerly located in Los Angeles, and based in Moline since 2007.