North by Current

A family death spurs an exploration of grief, time and transformation

North by Current After the inconclusive death of his young niece, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown, prepared to make a film about the family’s wrongful persecution at the hands of authorities. Instead, he pivots to excavate struggles of generational addiction, Christian fervor, and trans embodiment, and in the process, creates a breathtaking reflection on the challenges of creating identity, the agony of growing up and the ever-fickle nuances of family.


LaurelTribeca Film Festival | Official Selection | Viewpoints | 2021
LaurelBerlinale: Berlin International Film Festival| Official Selection | Panorama | 2021
LaurelOutfest Los Angeles | Winner | Grand Jury Documentary Feature Special Mention | 2021
Laurel Melbourne International Film Festival | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival | Jury Award, Best Feature Film | 2021
Laurel Xposed Queer Film Festival | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel Outfest | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel Sidewalk Film Festival | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel Austin LGBT Film Festival | Jury Award | Honorable Mention | 2021
Laurel New Visions: Queer Sicilia | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel DocYard, Boston | Official Selection | 2021
Laurel FREEP: Detroit Free Press Film Festival | Jury Award Best Feature Film | 2021

Reviews and More

A New York Times Critic's Pick

What People are Saying about North by Current...

Premiering at Tribeca and Berlinale and winning a Special Mention at Krakow Film Festival, Angelo Madsen Minax's critically-acclaimed piece unravels a family tragedy into a hypnotic exploration of the inescapable facts of life, death and everything in between. North by Current has screened at over 30 festivals worldwide, is a New York Times Critics' Pick and has received stellar reviews from Variety, The Boston Globe and many others. Ethereal, universal and poetic, it excavates the depths of generational addiction, Christian fervour, and trans embodiment. According to Filmmaker Magazine, the "steadfast withholding of answers allows us to discover deeper ones within ourselves."

The Producers

Angelo Madsen Minax - Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Sound Design

Angelo Madsen Minax is an artist, performer, and filmmaker. His recent short film The Eddies (2018), about a trans man who investigates the erotic culture of gun ownership in the Southern United States, earned awards from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Berganale (Spain), Kurzfilm Hamburg, and FLEX Experimental Film Festival. His numerous other projects, including The Source is a Hole (2017), and Kairos Dirt & the Errant Vacuum (2017) have shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Anthology Film Archives, Echo Park Film Center, European Media Art Festival, Berwick, Edinburgh, Ann Arbor, HotDocs, Outfest, Frameline, Newfest and others. Madsen has held residencies at the Core Program, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and is a recipient of the Samuel Edes Prize for Emerging Artists (2017), the Tribeca Film Institute's All-Access Fellowship (2019), the Sundance Film Institute's Documentary Production Fund (2019), and the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Media-maker Fellowship (2020). He is currently a Queer|Art mentor in film/video and teaches at the University of Vermont.

Felix Endara - Producer

Born in Ecuador, Felix Endara is a New York-based independent producer, programmer, and arts administrator whose projects have screened at festivals including Berlinale, DOC NYC, SXSW, Frameline, Outfest, NewFest, Mill Valley and others. From 2008 to 2012, he programmed Arts Engine’s documentary screening series DocuClub, was an IFP Producing Fellow in 2010, and from 2010-2012 produced Wildness (Dir: Wu Tsang), which follows the trajectory of a gay bar in Los Angeles as its transforms into a refuge for immigrant Latina transgender women. The film premiered at MoMa's Documentary Fortnight 2012, and went on to have dozens of festival screenings, and was included in the Whitney Biennial and the New Museum’s Triennial. Endara has reviewed for P.O.V., Tribeca All Access, NewFest, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and the New York Asian American International Film Festival and is committed to producing innovative, thought-provoking projects that function as catalysts for social change.

Julien Baker - Composer

A Memphis, Tennessee-based singer/songwriter with a knack for finding the shaky ground between heart-wrenching and cathartic, Julien Baker's stark and soulful music invokes names like Bon Iver, Daughter, and Natalie Prass. Noted for its personal lyrics and vulnerable delivery, her first album, Sprained Ankle, was released in 2015 by 6131 Records, and it reached number 23 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and led to an invitation to join the Matador Records roster. With a more expansive sound and equally intimate lyrics, the 2017 follow-up, Turn Out the Lights, was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis. It landed on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 78. She then joined fellow indie singer/songwriters Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus in the trio Boygenius, also on Matador Records. Baker's third set, Little Oblivions, arrived in 2021, combining her vocal and instrumental talents to deliver an "unflinching autobiography." North By Current is Julien’s first original film score.

Charlotte Cook - Executive Producer

Charlotte Cook is a curator, writer and producer and the co-founder and Executive Producer for Field of Vision. Prior to Field of Vision, she was the Director of Programming at Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival. In London, Charlotte was the Head of Film Programming at The Frontline Club. She has also worked with BBC Storyville, the Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation’s Puma Creative Catalyst Fund and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where she curated the strand Conflict | Reportage. In addition to her work at Field of Vision, Charlotte is currently a programmer at CPH:DOX. Her recent projects include The Gospel of Eureka (Dir: Donal Mosher & Michael Palmeri), Disclosure (Dir: Sam Feder), Strong Island (Dir: Yance Ford), Hale County, This Morning, This Evening (Dir: RaMell Ross), and The Hottest August (Dir: Brett Story).

Making The Film

Director's Statement

I grew up in rural Northern Michigan, in a town of under 2,000 people. Built between lakes, rivers, and highways, it is an old mill town, marked by rusty bridges, ancient bars, and a crumbling sawmill. Also, my family is Mormon, I was raised Mormon, and I am transgender. In 2013, After 12 years of living on my own, I went home, or rather, I was called home, to become an unlikely beacon for the tragic series of events that had just devastated my family.

Days earlier my sister, Jesse, entered the bedroom of her two-year-old daughter, Kalla, to find her dead in her bed. Jesse and my brother-in-law, David, were accused of child abuse and murder and after several months David was incarcerated. He spent the next two years in and out of prison. Then, in 2015, it was discovered that the police and Michigan state medical examiners fabricated evidence in the investigation of Kalla’s murder. This discovery prompted the Michigan Supreme Court to release him and clear both he and Jesse of all charges. Kalla’s death was declared accidental.

In 2015, when David was released, I began filming my time there. The grief at Kalla’s death and the anger and futility resulting from our collective persecution became entry points into our layered familial relationships and larger metaphysical questions of body, time, relationality, belief, and transformation. Over the course of five years of filming, North By Current became a woven treatise on addiction, religion, working class and rural identities; with trans experience – a film where socio-political questions act as a container for philosophical and interpersonal questions.

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