From Chechnya to Ann Arbor
"It was always an immigrant town, and in the last fifteen years immigration was a thousand Mexicans to work in the tree farms and mattress factory," Turnley adds. "And it was always a town that played football because the men were so damn tough."
Turnley spent a year and a half filming in Shenandoah. He went to every high school football game and to the bars afterwards with the coaches. He went to the Heritage Parade and the Thanksgiving Santa Drop, where Santa Claus drops out of an airplane and lands by parachute in the high school football stadium.
"I also got to know one of the young men who was involved in the fight, and I spent time in Mexico with the mother of the young man who was killed," continues Turnley, who has a nineteen-year-old son. "I felt like having spent so much of my career trying to understand people around the world, now I was trying to understand my own people."
The Michigan Theater showing won't be the first or last for Shenandoah. "It's on the festival circuit now," says Turnley. "I won best director for a documentary at the Atlanta Film Festival, and we're looking at getting licensed by Netflix in the next few weeks. But we're still looking for theatrical release."