‘Hockeyland’, a new documentary from the makers of ‘Saving Brinton’, hits theaters this month

'Hockeyland' (Iowa premiere)

FilmScene, Iowa City -- opens Friday, Sept. 23

‘Hockeyland’ (2021) dir. Tommy Haines

It’s been 17 years since Minnesota-born filmmakers Tommy Haines, JT Haines and Andrew Sherburne founded their independent production company, Northland Films, with a focus on nonfiction storytelling. In that time, they’ve produced, directed and released six film projects — all while Sherburne was busy founding and expanding Iowa City’s nonprofit cinema FilmScene. Their best-known documentary to date, Saving Brinton (2017), follows an Iowa man’s attempts to preserve a rare and fragile film collection from the first decades of moving pictures.

Northland’s latest release harkens back to its first — 2008’s Pond Hockey, which ESPN commentator John Buccigross dubbed the “best and purest hockey movie ever.” Hockeyland, directed by Tommy Haines, has already enjoyed screenings at DOC NYC, Big Sky and other national documentary festivals. But thanks to being picked up by independent distribution company Greenwich Entertainment (Free Solo), it will make its way to theaters starting Sept. 9 in Minnesota and Sept. 16 nationwide. FilmScene will begin screenings on Sept. 23.

In the North Country region of Minnesota, hockey is as central to life as football is to Alabama and Texas. Part slick sports doc, part small-town coming-of-age story, Hockeyland follows two rival high school hockey teams as they prepare to face off in a state championship game that will define their legacy at home and, with potential NHL contracts at stake, in the annals of hockey history.

And for those hoping Haines and Sherburne will turn their lenses Iowa-ward again, never fear — Northland Films is currently in production on The Workshop, a documentary promising to offer an intimate portrait of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Release date, TBA.

This article was originally published in Little Village 2022 issues.