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Da Union

Directed by William John Roach
Narrative Short
United States | 23 min | 2022

A colorful look at a close-knit Wisconsin community where farmers and residents regularly gather at a rural tavern to have a beer, catch up and talk about the events of the day. It’s Wisconsin’s rural version of cheers where everybody really does know your name.

It would likely be extremely difficult to find a film more Wisconsin than Da Union. This is a short documentary shot exclusively in Southern Wisconsin over the course of the past year. Those interviewed and featured in the film are down-to-earth Wisconsinites, many of whom work the soil, supporting one of the state’s primary economic drivers: agriculture. The film not only focuses on what makes this close-knit farming thrive, but it takes a look back in time to when rail barons took a pass on Union, Wisconsin.
Many would write the small village off for dead in the 1860’s, and yet it continues to thrive around its pulse point, the local watering hole, the Union Tavern. Once a stagecoach stop, a general store, a hotel, and now a tavern, it is the only business that has survived all these decades. It’s nothing special. In fact, it’s pretty much a dive bar. What keeps it alive, timeless, and extremely popular is the basis for a classic Wisconsin story, a genuine slice of Americana. Some would even call it a religious experience as they make the pilgrimage to see “Mother Mary.” Boston’s fictional Cheers may have met its rival with Da Union, only this joint features real-life characters, and one could argue they are just as memorable and colorful.
The film was directed and produced by Wisconsin native and Madison resident Bill Roach. It was written by local journalist and former Wisconsin broadcast reporter Joel DeSpain, also a Madisonian. The editing and sweetening are the work of those who are also proud to call the Badger State home.

Da Union

Shift Change - Bill RoachWilliam John Roach

With vast experience in the digital film and video production business, I believe there’s always something new to learn and I’m always looking for innovative ways to creatively meet the challenges of the industry. Never forget, you need to change as the game changes. However, as much as technology changes, one thing remains the same, it’s all about effectively telling stories of who we are, where we’ve been and were we’re going. Life is very short, take time to look around and breath it all in.

Film Information

Director: William John Roach
Year: 2022
Language: English
Runtime: 23 min.
Rated:  G


Writer: Joel Despain
Producer:  William John Roach
Narrator: Wright Thompson

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BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival