A Compelling New Documentary from Duluth Filmmaker Marius Anderson
Attend the big film screening on Friday, October 6th at The Historic NorShor Theatre Duluth
It’s been called the toughest endurance race in the world. Why would anyone do this, especially when it’s 40 degrees below zero?
In the new film 40 Below, which is set in northern Minnesota, we meet Leah, a junk food eating scientist, and Bill, an accomplished ultra-marathoner who just can’t seem to finish this incredibly challenging race. They must run, bike or ski 135 miles over three days in the solitary woods, sometimes hallucinating and barely stopping to rest or sleep in the snow without getting frostbite or freezing to death. What can we learn from them about life, love, and happiness?
This is the synopsis from the brand-new film, 40 Below – The Toughest Race in the World. This compelling documentary covers the Arrowhead 135 – an extreme ultra-endurance race that happens once per year.
Here, athletes bike, run, or ski the race’s brutal 135 miles on a route from International Falls to Tower, Minnesota, on what is statistically the coldest day of the year. Hence the film’s title, 40 Below.
Early in the film, viewers are introduced to protagonist Bill Bradley as he makes his 7th attempt to finish the race. Between his boisterous laugh and occasional tears, Bradley wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s impossible not to root for the lovable Bradley, along with the many other impressive competitors shown in the film.
40 Below is already racking up some impressive accolades, including:
- Winner - Audience Choice Award Documentary Feature @ MSPIFF 2023
- Winner - Best of Fest @ Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF 2023)
- Winner - Special Jury Prize San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (SFDocFest 2023)
The film is garnering plenty of buzz nationwide; however, it is expected to be a local hit, as well. After all, the filmmaker, Marius Anderson lives right here in Duluth!
Local residents can look forward to attending the premiere on Friday, October 6th, at The Historic Norshor Theatre Duluth.
About the Filmmaker
As noted, filmmaker Marius Anderson lives in Duluth. However, it took him a bit of a journey to find his forever home.
“I was born in Southern Germany in 1984, and went to film school in Berlin,” Anderson explained. “In 2015, I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to run the Stockholm half marathon. After the race, I met my wife Meredith, who was born and raised in Duluth. She was traveling to Sweden to run the half marathon.
“Fast forward, and in 2017, I moved to Duluth and we got married. We now have two wonderful children, Pippa (3) and Niles (1).
“I love living in Duluth,” Anderson noted. “I own a film production company in town, London Road Films, and do a lot of documentary and corporate film work in Minnesota and out of state. My big passion is creating sports documentaries.
“Every year I film for the Germany soccer league, ‘The Bundesliga’ in the US - in places like New York City, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Atlanta. In 2021, I was fortunate to work for Amazon Studios on a 6-part sports docuseries. I filmed with NFL superstars and Superbowl champions Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. In Minneapolis, I filmed a short doc with Twins legends and league MVPs Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.”
Anderson also served as director, co-producer, cinematographer and editor of 40 Below, co-produced by Melody Gilbert and co-edited by Mike Scholtz.
Behind the Scenes
Anderson shared some exciting behind-the-scenes details about creating this film, “Our adventure documentary film covers the most extreme endurance race in the world, according to many accomplished athletes who have tried to finish it," Marius states.
“The film was shot in St. Louis County during the extreme Polar Vortex in 2019. The finish line of the toughest race in the world is in Tower, Minnesota - only 90 minutes from Duluth.
“The cutoff time is 60 hours, and there are only three checkpoints; on one of them, all you get is water. In comparison, at an Iron Man, you have 28 aid stations.
“If you finish an Iron Man, and even if you win one and show the certificate of your accomplishment to the race director of the Arrowhead 135, Ken Krueger, he would say, ‘What other, tougher extreme endurance events have you finished? An Iron Man does not qualify you to start our event!’ He wants to make sure you survive.”
Anderson explained how he initially heard about the Arrowhead 135. “My father-in-law told me that two of his colleagues from work had done the race, and they saw someone hallucinating after being out on the trail for over 50 hours.
“That hallucinating person said that he was seeing dancing moose. Hearing that sparked my interest and I started planning to shoot this documentary. I wanted to follow the question: ‘Why would anyone voluntarily go through so much pain and risk their life?’
“So I filmed the race in 2019, which happened to be the coldest race they had ever had in over 15 years, with temperatures around 40 below Fahrenheit (hence the movie title 40 Below). It was during the extreme Polar Vortex. Schools in Minnesota were closed. I remember seeing on the news in the days leading up to the race that they told everyone to stay at home and not go outside. That's when the racers went to the starting line, and I started filming. My wife kissed me goodbye and said, ‘Be extremely careful out there. You have no idea what this kind of cold temperature actually means!’
“Coming from Germany and not being used to temperatures anywhere near this cold was really tough and extreme for me in making the film. I figured I had to be like the racers and just keep going and never quit!”
Anderson shared that some of the biggest challenges of making this film were the risk of frostbite, crewmember vehicles getting stuck, keeping his gear warm enough to function, and lack of sleep.
But these challenges have been well worth it. 40 Below is proving to be a huge hit with audiences.
“After five sold-out screenings at the MSPIFF 2023 film festival in Minneapolis, and winning the Audience Choice Award amongst 190 films - and after screenings in San Francisco and other places (which were all sold out) - we are now preparing for our largest screening yet, the hometown screening,” Anderson said. “40 Below will be the big opening-night film of the Duluth Superior Film Festival.”
Anderson shared the most important lesson he wanted to impart to 40 Below’s viewers. “In the end, I learned that the most important thing in life is to try. This is a lesson that anyone can appreciate, not just outdoors enthusiasts or athletes.
“I hope that people who watch this film will get a sense of the camaraderie, community, and goodwill that springs from this race,” he added. “And I hope they’ll begin to wonder what they can do to push themselves off the couch and out of their comfort zone and try something new, whatever that may be.”
We at Destination Duluth had the privilege of pre-screening the movie, and trust us: it is a must-see film, jam-packed with heart and adventure. Even if you aren’t an ultra-athlete, it contains nuggets of inspiration – and plenty of enjoyment - for all viewers.
40 Below will screen for one night only in Duluth on Friday, October 6th at 7 pm at The Historic Norshor Theatre, as part of the Duluth Superior Film Festival. After the Duluth screening, the film will be shown at other film festivals in the US and abroad, with plans to have it available for streaming in 2024.
Those who are interested can sign up for a newsletter at www.40belowmovie.com to be the first to know about upcoming screenings and also about streaming options in the future.
Watch the trailer here
Here's the link for Event info and tickets:
Find general info at www.40belowmovie.com