northfork1.jpg (11041 bytes)



northfork2s.jpg (13045 bytes)


(2003) The year is 1955, and Northfork is literally about to be “dammed,” flooded to make way for a new hydroelectric project. The town’s rugged plains are going to drown, its Heartland houses will be swept away, and its citizens are heading for higher ground. With the exception of a few stoic resistors.

Now a team of six trench-coated men has been charged with removing the last few stragglers before it is too late. As the Evacuation Committee spreads out across Northfork, they encounter a group of people not quite ready or willing to leave. They are each in limbo. Some are looking for a sign. Others are hoping for a miracle. Yet, one way or another, they will all have to say goodbye.

Northfork is a beguiling story of loss and resurrection, about adjusting to the strange new places towards which we sometimes find ourselves heading. Blending surreality and history, the film is spun in the manner of an American fairy tale that tackles such themes as land, life, faith, death, the afterlife and the power of dreams with a distinctively playful touch.



  • James Woods..................Walter O'Brien
  • Nick Nolte......................... Father Harlan
  • Anthony Edwards........................Happy
  • Kyle MacLachlan....................Mr. Hope
  • Peter Coyote...................................Eddie
  • Daryl Hannah...............Flower Hercules


  • Directed by......................Michael Polish
  • Written by.........Mark & Michael Polish
  • Music by................ Stuart Matthewman
  • Cinematography by... M. David Mullen
  • Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2003
  • Limited US release on July 11, 2003
  • DVD and video now available





Roger Ebert:
Ebert gave it four stars, claiming, "There has never been a movie quite like Northfork... It has the desolate open spaces of the first, the angels of the second, and the feeling in both of deep sadness and pity. The movie is visionary and elegiac, more a fable than a story, and frame by frame, it looks like a portfolio of spaces so wide, so open, that men must wonder if they have a role beneath such indifferent skies."

Liz Braun, Jam! Movies:
"The experience of seeing Northfork is a bit like being inside a dream." 

NY Times:
"Dreamy and entrancing! There is nothing quite like this movie! At a moment when so many films strive to be obvious and interchangeable as possible, it is gratifying to find one that is puzzling, subtle and handmade."

Boxoffice Magazine:
"One of the most hauntingly beautiful films ever made." 

Christian Science Monitor:
"The movie elegantly mingles drama, comedy, and low-key spiritual resonance."

Boston Globe:
"You may resist Northfork, but I doubt you'll be able to forget it."

Washington Post:
"Possesses an undeniable haunting grandeur."  

New York Post:
"Remarkable love letter to the disappearance of the American frontier."
"A hynotic masterpiece, it grabs hold and won't let go until you've fallen under its spell."

Article from the Great Falls Tribune, May 3, 2002:

Stars at ease on Montana Movie Set

Some of the biggest stars in Hollywood and an entourage of 70 sound, set and picture people blew in to the Rocky Mountain Front this week. Crews for the independent film Northfork were in Glasgow last week and arrived in Great Falls on Friday. They will be working in and around Great Falls and Augusta for the next three weeks.

Although it's considered a low-budget film, Northfork features a star-studded cast including Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Woods, Anthony Edwards and Peter Coyote. Northfork is the third in a trilogy of original Americana screenplays by identical twins Mark and Michael Polish, who spent part of their childhood in the Flathead Valley. Preceded by Jackpot and Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork likely will hit theaters in the fall of 2003.

An innovative script enabled the brothers to lure big-name actors, Mark Polish said.

"People will go far and wide and work really hard for good material," he said. "And you can't beat Montana, right? When Mother Nature's your art director, you can't go wrong."

Set in 1955, Northfork is about the residents of a small Montana community forced to move their homes to make way for a new dam.

"It's about the last few days of evacuating the town," Mark Polish said. "There are three or four houses left that will not move."

The town's people also have to dig up graves and relocate their cemetery -- a situation that forces James Woods' character to finally deal with his wife's death.

The movie contains gypsies, a priest and a dying orphan named Irwin, played by 8-year-old Duel Forest Farnes, from Ennis.

"Irwin represents the last bit of innocence from a time that's dead," said Ichelle Spitzig, production designer.

Montana's landscape, combined with the crew's use of color, adds a sense of timelessness to the film, she said.

Aside from the vibrant Montana sky, many of the colors in the movie are muted, and red is banned. Even the ketchup bottles are gray, Spitzig said. "We're shooting it in color and adding gray to it. It gives it another layer."

Surrealism is another constant Northfork theme. Irwin, the orphan, is sick and hallucinates about fantastic creatures and angels.

Gary Tunnicliffe designed the movie's science-fiction-looking props and costumes. He also has worked on Hellraiser, Sleepy Hollow and Blade.

Tunnicliffe said he's used to a bigger budget, but the Polish brothers' project was too creative to turn down. "They have the most surreal imagination of anyone I've ever met," he said.

The brothers wrote the screenplay and are producing the movie. In addition, Michael is director and Mark directs and plays the part of Willis, the son of the character played by James Woods.

Michael and Mark's father, Delbert Polish, is in charge of construction; their older brother, Matt, is on scene making two documentaries about the filming of Northfork. One will be a shortened version for DVD. 

[ The Official Peter Coyote Web Site ]