So gross, so beautiful, so weird:

By Tressa Versteeg

The Minnesota State Fair can be culture shock for city-slickers, suburbians and out-of-staters, due to the abundance of greasy stick-food and farm animals. The display which both fascinates and nauseates folks the most may be the Miracle of Birth Center-a barn full of pregnant animals giving birth while bystanders stare. Each birth is filmed and replayed on TVs around the barn, in order for people to see the births they missed or watch them multiple times.Fiona Kohrman ’12 had the chance to spend three days at the Miracle of Birth Center, helping Loki film directors Rachael Gradey and Heidi Ewing (directors of “Jesus Camp” and “Boys of Baraka”) and two videographers produce a documentary about the hoopla of the entire fair, with a more concentrated focus on the Miracle of Birth Center.

According to Kohrman, Gradey visited the Miracle of Birth Center last fall and was fascinated. She came back a year later to capture the story of the Miracle of Birth Center and the Minnesota State Fair.

“They [Gradey and Ewing] are these city chicks from New York City. Rachael went last year with her mom and was just blown away and has been talking about this for an entire year,” Kohrman said.

Kohrman helped record and regulated different sounds of the Miracle of Birth Center. She spent time listening in on conversations of people watching the births, but also recording the sounds of the veterinarians and announcers at the births.

“There were two headsets and two mikes coming into the sound booth and I would have to make sure the sounds didn’t overlap. So if the pig presenter was talking about pig mamas, I would have to turn down the cow sounds, and when the presenters were done talking, I would turn up the cow sounds,” she said. “I also would record conversations. So I would stand next to the kids at the miracle of birth and record things like, ‘Mommy, where do babies come from?’ and brothers telling little sisters what umbilical “chords” were.”

Gradey and Ewing would like to send the 20 minute film to Animal Planet and National Geographic once its ready. As of now, they are working towards having it ready for the Silver Docs Canadian film contest in January. This documentary would be entered into the short film portion of the contest. For the long film portion of the contest, Gardey and Ewing are working on another documentary about a pro-life center under the guise of an abortion clinic.

Korhman’s three days at the Miracle of Birth Center proved to be a meaningful experience.

“I was in the midst of this amazing thing and I couldn’t help but think about what a crazy country this is and what crazy things we do,” Kohrman said. “They [Gardey and Ewing] are trying to paint the picture of the State Fair, and let everybody interpret it, because there is so much going on. You’re not going to be able to watch this and not get something out of it-whether you are a city kid or from a farm.The whole fair is so wonderfully brilliant and weird.