Roger Nygard Returns Home for a Movie Marathon in His Honor
“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy visiting Minnesota,” Minnesota native and filmmaker Roger Nygard said. “I try to get back once a year … wedding, fishing.”
Nygard’s trip home for 2022, however, isn’t about celebrating newlyweds or even chasing trophy walleye. No, this time Nygard is coming home to share six of his films during an all-day movie marathon Saturday, June 25, at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis.
Nygard discussed his work and this marathon showcase, which is presented by the Twin Cities Film Fest, on a call from a remote Canadian lodge, where he was busy fishing and writing.
Twin Cities native and filmmaker Roger Nygard with a 40-inch northern pike, caught a few days before this interview at Sabaskong Bay Lodge on Lake of the Woods. (Photo courtesy of Roger Nygard)
“It’s six of my films, all in the same day,” he said. “Starting with my first film [‘High Strung’] and ending with ‘Suckers.’ It’s certainly a spectrum of the work I’ve done.”
In addition to ‘High Strung’ (1991 comedy about a reclusive, cantankerous children’s author) and ‘Suckers’ (2001 dramedy about a shady car salesman who’s in a bad way with loan sharks), the marathon includes:
Trekkies. 1997 documentary about ‘Star Trek’ fanatics.
Six Days in Roswell. 2000 documentary featuring experts and purported abductees converging on the New Mexico city synonymous with aliens and government cover-ups.
The Nature of Existence. 2010 globetrotting documentary that examines the source of the world’s beliefs and philosophies.
The Truth About Marriage. 2020 documentary that follows a handful of couples following their vows to answer the question, “why is marriage so difficult?”
The idea of showcasing his work at a hometown event was on Nygard’s radar back in 2020, after making the festival rounds with ‘The Truth About Marriage’ and preparing for a proper release.
“I was going to do an event at the Parkway in 2020,” he said, noting that like most everything in 2020, his plans were put on hold due to COVID. “It kept getting delayed and pretty soon it was too late.”
As things started opening back up, the Parkway was once again looking to host an event, and as luck would have it, so was Nygard. And he had a surprise for the big occasion … 35mm.
“They haven't been screened in 35 in a long time. I’ve kept them in storage and I kind of wanted to have a purpose to have kept them,” he said. “It’s really uncommon to have films shown in 35mm [now] because everything is DCP now.” (‘The Truth About Marriage’ is the only film that won’t be shown in 35mm.)
If movie theater technology isn’t in your wheelhouse, simply liken film purists and their strong preference for 35mm over digital to audiophiles and their preference for vinyl over digital music.
“35mm is the perfect storage medium,” Nygard said. “It hasn’t been equaled in terms of durability and quality.”
So, you’re probably asking yourself, “if these movies have all been released and I can watch them at home, why should I come out for one or all of them?”
Nygard has an answer for that.
“It’s the only time you’ll have me in the same place as all of these films, and likely the last time you’ll see any of them in 35mm,” he said. “It’ll really be a unique, special event that will never happen again … just for the fact that I had to dig these out of storage and figure out how to ship them safely.”
If it seems like Nygard’s filmography, which also includes high profile editing gigs on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘The League,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and ‘Veep,’ seems like it’s all over the map, it’s because it is. And that’s not something that’s lost on Nygard.
“Looking back, each of my films – because I have an eclectic sensibility – develops a cult following and none of [the audiences] overlap,” he said. “It drives my agent crazy … I get bord and like to do different things and take on different challenges.”
While Nygard’s films might not share audiences, they are similar at their core.
“They all have comedy as a basic framework, I’m really looking to entertain people – the audience and myself,” he said. “And I always have a core question, or something that I want to understand, and set it up to ask the question – “why do we exist?” or “why this TV series?”
Nygard share some thoughts and tidbits on the films in the marathon:
High Strung: “It’s my very first film, so that holds a special place.”
Suckers: “It’s developed a cult following, and I found out that car salesman are watching it. I went into a [car] dealership and my director of photography asked a salesman if they’d seen it … it turns out they make everyone at the dealership watch it.”
The Nature of Existence: “It’s pretty funny watching people tell you the meaning of life and the next person says something that’s the exact opposite. It changed my life … there’s no feeling as good as when someone tells you your work has affected their life in a positive way.”
The Truth About Marriage: “It’s a lot of women saying, ‘thank you, he so needed to see this,’ pointing to her husband.”
Six Days in Roswell: “It was partially filmed in Minnesota, with Minnesotans on the crew.”
An alien autopsy performed in Roswell, NM, as
seen in the feature documentary ‘Six Days in
Roswell.’ (Photo courtesy of Roger Nygard)
Trekkies: “It’ my biggest [film], it bought me my house and it continues having a life long after its first run, which is something not many docs get … it really has a special run in my pantheon. Not surprised any more [by its popularity], but I’m amazed. Because the franchise is always evolving and bringing out new shows. I don’t think anyone ever leaves Star Trek fandom.”
The ‘Trekkies’ creative team: (Left to right) Director Roger Nygard, Co-Executive Producer Denise Crosby, and Producer W.K. Border. (Photo courtesy of Roger Nygard)
In addition to the films, anyone dressed as an alien or a Trekkie will receive a free bag of popcorn. Nygard will also be signing copies of his movies (bring your copies or a limited number will be available for purchase), and his books ‘The Truth About Marriage’ and ‘Cut to the Monkey,’ which is about comedy editing and features insights from Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Sacha Baron Cohen, who Nygard jokes were all “trapped” in an editing room with him, so he decided to interview them.
Once Saturday’s festivities are complete, you’ll next be able to see Nygard’s working on episodes of the upcoming HBO miniseries ‘The White House Plumbers.’ And next year, if all goes according to plan, he’ll start working on season 12 of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Trekkies 3.’
Find more information and order your all-day or individual film tickets here.