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RAINBOW FARM THE FUGITIVE LOVE STORY OF AMERICA’S FORGOTTEN STANDOFF

Look Book for a Film in Progress

“I’m surprised they haven’t killed you boys yet.” - Merle Haggard

RAINBOW FARM is the fugitive love story of two queer visionaries who built a counterculture community of radical freedom and marijuana activism in rural Michigan. Refusing to surrender to local authorities, they tragically lost their son, their property, and their lives during an armed standoff that ended just one week before September 11th, 2001.

SYNOPSIS

Singularly blending nonfiction and fiction, RAINBOW FARM depicts the last days in the lives of Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm, two queer hippie libertarian life-partners from rural Michigan who created a utopian space for radical freedom in 1996 called Rainbow Farm.

Theirs was a community of hippies and militiamen, lawyers and outlaws, queer libertarians and new age spiritualists that attracted thousands of guests to its American creed of “liberty for all.” People from all over the nation came for their festivals of political action, marijuana legalization, and hard-core partying.

“They’ve just gone too far.” - Tom Crosslin

The local authorities grew hostile to Tom and Rollie’s vision. After years of antagonism, the police raided the property, taking their grow plants, their firearms, and, most significantly, their son Robert. With this one act, Tom and Rollie transformed from activists into warriors. As their court date approached, they issued a challenge to their oppressors - return our son and leave us alone or be prepared to fight.

Four days later, they would be dead.

“All they were asking for was to see their son and be left alone.” - Buggy Brown

Tom and Rollie were buried the morning the planes hit the towers and, eclipsed by that larger national tragedy, their struggle was buried too. RAINBOW FARM unearths the history of these two rare, forgotten outlaws whose tragic end came a mere decade before gay marriage became the law of the land and support for marijuana legalization has begun to grow. Their story begs the question - would they be alive today?

“When someone dies, it’s never a success in my eyes.” - Sheriff Joe Underwood

IMPACT

Not only does Rainbow Farm touch on issues of government overreach, LGBTQ experience, marijuana activism, civil rights, and gun culture, it is also the story of two righteous outlaws who stood up for what they believed against a hostile force closing in on them. Additionally, the identities of Tom and Rollie defy easy categorization: they loved guns and wore tie-dye; they loved prayer circles and held libertarian beliefs; they loved America and challenged its parameters of freedom. Through these complex layers of identity, Tom and Rollie’s story reaches through history and connects us in powerful ways across our current cultural divide.

DIRECTOR'S APPROACH

Rainbow Farm combines narrative filmmaking with archival footage to craft a film that utilizes the strengths of both fiction and nonfiction. On the nonfiction side, I’ve spent the past five years building connections with the families and friends of Tom and Rollie, as well as Cass county officials. I have mined both the public archive of news footage and police audio as well as the personal archives of Rainbow Farm festival attendees. Our plan is to combine this archival footage with a scripted narrative that gets inside the thoughts and feelings of Tom and Rollie during their final days. Our hope is that this radical storytelling technique mirrors the radical way in which Tom and Rollie chose to live their lives.

As a director, I explore collective experience and the untapped possibilities of cinema. From Sichuanese parks to NYC junkyards to the Sonoran desert borderlands, I research extensively and film longitudinally, drawing from ethnography and art practice. In my films, I try to embrace life’s ambiguity and sensuality, activating cinema’s immersive power to draw the viewer into deeper engagement.

RAINBOW FARM presents challenging new territory for me, compelling me towards narrative film form. For me, storytelling is a powerful tool to mine narratives that have been buried by authority or disregarded by mainstream culture. This desire to reveal the forgotten aspects of lived-experience dovetails with my abiding concern with the politics of representation. I am committed to recognizing the local, the illicit, and the overlooked as key contributions to our understanding of the human condition. - JP Sniadecki

(Clockwise from top left: JP Sniadecki, Sara Archambault, Douglas Tirola, Shane Boris, Susan Bedusa)

THE TEAM

JP Sniadecki’s (Director) films have screened at premier venues such as the Berlinale, BFI London, New York Film Festival, Locarno, AFI, and Edinburgh, and are in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. They have won numerous awards and earned critical praise in the NYTimes by AO Scott, Dennis Lim, and Manohla Dargis. A 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient for RAINBOW FARM, his feature-length film credits include El Mar La Mar (2017), The Iron Ministry (2014), Yumen (2013), People’s Park (2012), and Foreign Parts (2010).

Sara Archambault (Producer) is a Creative Producer committed to the craft of artful nonfiction. She is the Program Director at LEF Foundation and Programmer/Co-Founder of the award-winning series The DocYard. Her film work has received support from IFP, Hot Docs Forum, Catapult Film Fund, SFFilm, and Sundance. Credits include the Emmy-nominated Traces of the Trade: Stories From the Deep North and Sundance-supported Street Fighting Men. Sara was a 2013 Sundance Creative Producers Lab Fellow.

Shane Boris has a background in developing films with innovative approaches and launching them into the marketplace. His credits include the Sundance award-winner All These Sleepless Nights, and the critically acclaimed Olmo and the Seagull.

Douglas Tirola and Susan Bedusa (Executive Producers) have released 12 feature documentaries since their company, 4th Row Films, began making movies in 2008. Their films have premiered at the world’s most prestigious film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Tribeca, SXSW, Hot Docs and Edinburgh and have been acquired by premiere networks including HBO, Showtime, A&E, MTV and Netflix. Their most recent films include BREWMASTER which will debut at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, BISBEE ’17, which premiered in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Sundance 2016 award-winner KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE, and A&E Indiefilm’s DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD, which premiered at Sundance 2015 and was acquired by Magnolia Pictures, Showtime Networks, and Netflix.

WHERE WE'RE AT

  • Hundreds of hours of archival research, including first-hand footage of life on the farm, local news broadcasts from the standoff and police recordings
  • Interviews with friends and family of Tom and Rollie, and Cass County officials.
  • Script ready to shoot in summer 2018.
  • 30% of the budget raised from grants, in-kind services and expected state tax incentives.
  • Support from Executive Producers Fourth Row Films (producers behind Sundance hit Kate Plays Christine and Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon).

WHAT WE NEED

We are looking for investors who understand the importance of supporting timely and innovative stories. All of our budget thus far has been raised in grants (Guggenheim, LEF Foundation), in-kind donations (Northwestern University), and an expected 30% rebate from the State of Illinois. However, we urgently need an additional $246,000 to close our budget gap and finance our production, which is set for summer 2018. We are also seeking to contact actors to cast the fictionalized sections of the film and need support in getting access to top talent.

CONTACT

For more information or a request to see the trailer please contact producers:

Shane Boris / shaneboris@gmail.com / (303)548-7323

Sara Archambault / saraarchambault@gmail.com / (401)339-8484

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