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The Trafficker

Thu Mar 2, 2023 – 7:30 pm | Hendricks Arts Center
Sat Mar 4, 2023 – 5:00 pm | Hendricks Arts Center

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Minnesota Tiger Man

Directed by Grant Osum
Documentary Feature
United States | 56 min | 2022

Minnesota Tiger Man is the story of Grant Oly, a man who starts a Siberian tiger habitat in his own yard after taking in a tiger cub from a local whose big cat facility was being shut down in the late 90s. His facility eventually expands to include seven fully-grown tigers and thousands of square feet of exhibits. Grant spends years clearing land to build cages and zoo-like exhibits around his home and spent countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to build a habitat suitable for his animals.

However, after a series of accidents lead the local government to question the safety and legal validity of the facility, Grant is thrown into a series of multi-year long legal battles, ultimately leading to the Department of Homeland Security stepping in, seizing the tigers, and throwing Grant into jail with no bail — eventually leading to over eight years of legal proceedings and multiple trials.

More than fifteen years later, Grant works to move on and lives in the same half-finished concrete home surrounded by the remains of his tiger habitat. Oly vividly remembers the past and those who he believes wronged him, still trying to figure out exactly what happened so many years ago.

With authorities that took questionable shortcuts, possible strings being pulled in local government by mysterious influential forces, and inconsistencies and contradictions in the story coming from all sides, the complete truth is sometimes hard to fully discern as the viewer is immersed in extensive amounts of real-life archival footage and interview accounts.

Through Grant’s story, the larger issues surrounding exotic animal ownership and conservation are also explored and contextualized.

AWARDS

Winner of the People’s Choice Award
Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), 2021

The Best Feature Documentary Award
Indy Film Fest, 2022

The Cercle d’or for Best Feature Documentary Award
Sherbrooke World Film Festival, 2022

The Grand Prix Documentary Award
Rising Sun International Film Festival, 2022

The Silver Award for Best Feature Documentary
Tokyo Film Awards, 2022

The Dr. Sydney K. Shapiro Humanitarian Award
Phoenix Film Festival, 2022

The Best Editing of a Documentary Award
Madrid International Film Festival, 2022

The Excellence in Editing Award
Docs Without Borders Film Festival, 2022

The Best Editing Award
Brussels World Film Festival, 2022

REVIEWS

“Truly a rare moment in Cinema… This film is a marvel”
Mélikah Abdelmoumen & Marc Béland, CBC Radio Canada

“An Exquisite Gem. Tenderness, wonder, & dignity…
a beautiful film about beautiful people”
Richard Propes, The Independent Critic

“Anyone who watches Dear Audrey will undoubtedly conclude
that Hayes is a masterful filmmaker”
Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight

“Touching… luminous… truly magnificent”
Caroline Levesque, CBC Radio Canada

“Dear Audrey, a riveting documentary…
that stands as a powerful paean to passion and perseverance”
Evelyn C White, The Halifax Examiner

“…so many amazing lessons, stories, emotions with pain
and celebration intertwined”
Darren Wiesner, Hollywood North Magazine

“It’s impossible to watch this documentary, (a People’s Choice Award winner), without being overwhelmed by its sweetness and generosity”
Silvia Galipeau, La Press

“…an at once ethereal reflection on the enduring power of love,
and unblinking revelation of life’s steel-cold realities”
Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio

“The central force of Dear Audrey is the eternal, almost implacable force of love that binds people together through the most difficult times”
Dorothy Woodend, The Tyee

“Dear Audrey celebrates the very best the human heart has to offer, with such compassion, artistry and grace”
Terre Nash, Oscar-winning director

“A Stunning Love Story You Won’t Soon Forget!”
Indy Film Fest

“This love story will bring you joy, hope, tears and humility…”
Dr. Jen Hammersmark, Mind Your Madness

“…a beautiful homage to Audrey, to the couple’s
love and their family”
Nantali Indongo, CBC Radio

“Beautiful, touching … ‘Dear Audrey’ is a testament to
what Audrey was and what she remains forever”
Rob Wilson, The Bobr Times

“Poignant and could not be more authentic”
Amandine de Chanteloup, Le Collectif

Back in 2019, I found a plastic container of old photos and VHS tapes in my basement. The photos were from a time when my Uncle owned Siberian tigers in the early 2000s. I can barely remember when he had tigers because I was around five years old at the time. When the tigers were taken away by the local police I was too young to even remember it. I know that the tigers meant a lot to him and it was something he always talked about more than a decade later. As I began my research, I found more and more photos/videos from the past, so the documentary quickly began to form on its own.

For the production of this documentary, it was primarily a 2-person crew operation with my Editor/Asst. Director/Co-Producer Sam Ruesink assisting on secondary camera/monitoring. As for post-production, I worked with Sam to organize the story and footage in a way that best covers all stories surrounding the Tiger Zone. My hope for this documentary was to be able to tell my Uncle’s story from a more well-rounded and informed perspective compared to how the media portrayed him at the time. Secondly, I wanted to create a film that would pull the audience into feeling like they are getting an inside look at how those involved have been impacted by events from 20 years ago to the present. I wanted to show a well-rounded view of the Tiger Zone and those involved with it, then let the viewer form their own opinion on what occurred through interview/video evidence.

For the 3+ years, Sam and I have been working on this film we have continuously pushed our release in order to form an accurate story. Between gathering new interviews/photos, the COVID-19 pandemic, graduating college, and a full-time job I have worked to make sure this story isn’t rushed. My main hope for this film is to show that my Uncle Grant is more than the criminal the news and local officials portrayed him as. Personally, I don’t think there is a clear line of who was right or wrong, but I know there’s more than one side to every story. So whether my Uncle was in the right, wrong, or somewhere in-between I leave that up to the viewers to decide.

-Grant Osum

Minnesota Tiger Man - poster

Minnesota Tiger Man - Grant OsumGrant Osum
Director

Grant Osum was born in 1999 in Minneapolis, MN, and moved to Waukesha, WI at 6 weeks old. He began pursuing filmmaking towards late high school and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Cinema Arts & Science focused on producing. His latest film work has been directing and producing the documentary films “Minnesota Tiger Man”, about his Uncle who had Siberian tigers in MN, and “Olu”, about a speed skater who has spent his life helping others as well as mentoring 2x gold medal Olympian Shani Davis. He’s currently located in Nashville, TN, and works full-time as a Digital Media Associate for CTK Enterprises.

Portfolio Website: https://gosum23.wixsite.com/portfolio

Film Information

Director: Grant Osum
Country: United States
Year: 2022
Language: English
Runtime: 56 min
Rated:  PG-13

Credits

Producer: Grant Osum, Sam Ruesink
Editor:
Sam Ruesink
Cinematographer: Grant Osum
Composer: Marlon Lang
Key Cast: Grant Oly, Allison Asher, Ron Heichert, Tammy Thies (Formerly Quist), Ricky Cordry, Barry Voss

Connect With This Film

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