independent films

Directed by Dawn Mikkelson

Risking Light - 2018

Feature Documentary

WORLD PREMIERE - Cinequest Film & VR Festival, in competition.

The film

From the streets of Minneapolis, the aboriginal lands of Australia, and the killing fields of Cambodia come the powerful stories of three people who had the courage to step out of the haunting, tragic darkness of the past, risking everything to reach the light of their own compassion.

Shaping the Public - 2015

Short Film

WINNER - Best Documentary Short Film, WIFTI Short-Case (Women in Film & Television International Short Film Showcase.

Additional festival screenings at Flyway Film Festival and MSPIFF (Minneapolis/St. Paul, International Film Festival).

A determined group of artists occupy a vacant lot in an impoverished and violent part of Caracas, Venezuela, transforming it into a home for a thriving arts scene receiving national and international acclaim.

The Red Tail - 2009

Feature Documentary

“"[The Red Tail ] will make you not only smarter, but also more sensitive and compassionate.” – Huffington Post, Feb 25, 2010.

"Sneakily insightful study of the insidiously far-reaching effects of globalization on unionized labor around the world” -Video Librarian, Sept-Oct 2010

The film

The Red Tail is an independent documentary film, initiated by Dawn Mikkelson and co-directed with Melissa Koch.

On August 19, 2005 Roy Koch, along with 4,400 airline mechanics, custodians, and cleaners, went on strike against Northwest Airlines, the fourth largest airline in the world. Northwest, otherwise known as “The Red Tail” by its employees, wanted to lay off 53% of their union and outsource their jobs. What followed was a 444-day strike that would end with 4,000 union members out of work, including Roy.

Instead of being left in the wake of this battle, Roy and his daughter Melissa (director of The Red Tail) set on a journey to meet the worker to whom Roy’s job was outsourced in China. The journey provides a renewed sense of purpose for Roy, and while Melissa wants to get answers to his plight, her determination as a filmmaker is always tempered by her love as a daughter. The film interweaves Roy and Melissa’s search for connection in China with the premeditated downfall of Northwest Airlines. This downfall serves a vibrant example of the dangers of our current economic system, and casts a spotlight on the future of the working class.

The Red Tail has screened around the world at festivals including 2010 IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), DocuFest Atlanta, US Social Forum, LaborFest, 2009 Sheffield Doc/Fest, Galway Film Fleadh, and the Flyway Film Festival.

The Red Tail has broadcast in Israel and is currently available to PBS affiliates through The film is available on multiple streaming platforms.

Purchase DVDs on The Red Tail Official Website.

Streaming on:


Green Green Water - 2006

Feature Documentary

Green Green Water is an independent documentary film, initiated by Dawn Mikkelson and co-directed with Jamie A. Lee. Cinematography by James M. Fortier.

Green Green Water follows U.S. consumer, Dawn Mikkelson, as she traces the source of her ‘green energy’ back to the displacement of the indigenous Cree and Metis in Northern Manitoba. Whitewashed under auspices of renewable energy, power suppliers Xcel Energy and Manitoba Hydro provide cheap hydro-electric power to Minnesota – energy that comes at the price of mass flooding, destroyed land and devastated communities, a far cry from the ‘clean and green’ tranquility of the energy company’s posters. Dating back to pressured agreements signed in the 1970s, the hydro-electric dams harshly disrupted the sustainable practices of indigenous life. Now, as a new set of dams are being proposed, the communities stand at the crossroads, divided. Some advocate partnership in the development of new projects, hoping to spark the economy and a new way of life; others continue to resist government pressure, choosing to maintain the integrity of indigenous tradition. A cautionary tale of consumer consciousness, Green Green Water exposes the important story of displacement, resistance and insidious public relations that lie beyond the energy grid.” — Anita Wong, Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival, 2006.

Broadcast History

Free Speech TV & WDSE, PBS-Duluth, MN


World Premiere: 2006 imagineNATIVE Film Festival (Toronto)

U.S. Premiere: 2006 American Indian Film Festival (San Francisco)

Other festival screenings: Planet In Focus International Film Festival (Toronto), Cambridge Film Festival (England), City Pages: Get Real Documentary Film Festival (Minneapolis), the Washington DC Environmental Film Festival, Yukon International Film Festival, Environmental Film Festival (Saskatoon, SK), The Native Spirit Film & Video Festival (London, UK), See the Light Energy Festival (Minneapolis), Northern Lights Film Festival (Ely, MN), Duluth Environmental Film Festival, Nit-Aski: An Environmental Awareness (Moose Factory, ON), One World Film Fest (Ottawa), Red Fork Native American Film Festival (Tulsa, OK).

Special invite screenings: Zaragoza International Water Expo in Spain, American University (presented by NRDC, Washington, D.C.), National Film Board of Canada’s Citizen Shift “Water” Tour, Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Conference & Film Exhibit (New York, NY), Bell Museum of Natural History (Minneapolis), Ottawa University (KS), Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College (Cloquet, MN), Macalester College (St. Paul, MN), Vermilion Community College (Ely, MN), & Mesabi Range Community & Technical College (Virginia, MN).

DVDs Available for purchase on PayPal - 

Green Green Water DVD

Streaming on:

THIS obedience - 2003

Feature Documentary

Out Lesbian minister the Rev. Anita C. Hill fights the toughest battle of her life as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America grapples with her ordination, an act of “ecclesiastical disobedience” against the church policy that GLBT clergy vow celibacy. THIS obedience is an emotional journey through the conflict between faith and love. Winner of a 2003 Audience Award at the Central Standard Film Festival. Screened at festivals across the U.S. and Canada.

Co-Directed with Jamie A. Lee and produced by Aquaries Media.

DVDs available through Reconciling Works.