Storm Lake

Dark clouds hang over the vast cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its fair share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. State and county politicians make compromises to appease growing commercial interests. The people of Storm Lake confront a changing community as corporate, political and environmental forces threaten to overwhelm their already precarious existence.

Enter: 62-year-old Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Art Cullen and his family-run newspaper, The Storm Lake Times. Day-in and day-out, the Cullens deliver the hard facts and biting editorials on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. By hook or by crook, they’ll fight to preserve the communal values and pragmatic lifestyle of the town they call home. More than that, they stand for credible local journalism at large—as the presidential election looms, there’s simply too much at stake.



“A vital celebration of the role of community-based news gathering at a time when media revenues are way down and the credibility of the press has taken a hammering across much of the country.”

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“Jerry Risius and Beth Levison’s warm and biting profile of the editorial team that puts out The Storm Lake Times stirs up hope that small local newspapers, and journalism itself, can survive.”

Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

“Beth Levison and Jerry Risius’s profound documentary is simultaneously a love letter to and a eulogy for local news—even more than that, it’s a sincere inquiry into the meaning of community and the role played by the dissemination of information in holding together further distabled societal connections. I laughed out loud at times and tearfully celebrated and mourned this endangered medium.”

Kathleen Sachs, Chicago Reader

Premieres & Awards

Peabody Award

Nominee 2022

Official Selection

Hot Docs 2021

Audience Award

AFI Docs 2021

Official Selection

Full Frame 2021

Best Documentary Feature

Woodstock Film Festival 2021