badlands girl

Cast and crew work on a scene from “The Badlands Girl,” a short western film shot on location near Medora.

The scenic wonders of North Dakota’s own backyard serve as the backdrop for “The Badlands Girl,” a short film shot in North Dakota and screening in Williston at the James Memorial Art Center.

Written and produced by Daniel Bielinski, Theater Director at the University of Mary in Bismarck, “The Badlands Girl” is the first period Western film shot in North Dakota’s Badlands, and tells the story of Maggie, a rugged frontier woman in 1895 North Dakota who must choose between the two men in vying for her love — mild-mannered neighbor William and reckless cowboy and former flame Jacob, as well as dealing with a gang of vengeful outlaws who descend upon her ranch, disrupting her peaceful life.

The film was shot on location in the Badlands at the Logging Camp Ranch, about 45 minutes south of Medora.

“It’s just meant to be an old school, exciting Western film,” Bielinski told the Williston Herald. “There’s never been a period Western film shot in the North Dakota Badlands, and it’s just such a beautiful place and there’s so much history and Western culture already ingrained in that part of the state.”

The short film premiered in Bismarck in 2018, and has been making its way around the state, with Bielinski hosting screenings in Belfield, Watford City, Carrington and more.

Now, Bielinski is bringing the film to Williston to share the story with a screening at the James on Saturday, Dec. 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the short film beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a Q & A session with Bielinski. As part of the screening, Bielinksi will be sharing information about his upcoming film project, another period Western entitled “Sanctified.”

Bielinksi stated that he hopes “The Badlands Girl” will inspire people to get involved and excited about filmmaking in North Dakota. “Sanctified” will be a full-length feature as opposed to a short film, and will again be filmed on location in the Badlands beginning in May 2020.

“The idea of making ‘The Badlands Girl’ a short film is that I wanted to do was not only make a film that was beautiful and stood on its own two feet, but something that could give a small taste of what we could achieve with a full-length feature Western film,” he explained. “‘The Badlands Girl’ was just the beginning of North Dakota filmmaking, I hope. We hope to make many more films that honor the land, the history and the culture of the people of western North Dakota.”

The screening is open to the public at the James Memorial, located at 621 First Avenue West.

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