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Peeps sweep first Cottage Grove Films in 5 Festival

Jim Hesley of Woodbury and Peggy Walker of River Falls took home top honors Saturday at the first-ever Films in 5 Festival at Park High School in Cottage Grove. Their film was a stop-motion short called “Marriage Equality Waits in 33 States" took over 40 hours to create. (Submitted photo)1 / 4
Jim Hesley of Woodbury and Peggy Walker of River Falls took home top honors Saturday at the first-ever Films in 5 Festival at Park High School in Cottage Grove. Their film was a stop-motion short called “Marriage Equality Waits in 33 States.” Cottage Grove Arts Commission members Justin Atkinson (second from left) and Kathleen Kullman (far right), along with Walker’s grandsons Greyson, 6, and Emerson, 3, presented the award. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 4
First-place winner Peggy Walker of River Falls, who created her film with longtime friend Jim Hesley of Woodbury, smiles as she accepts her awards with grandsons Greyson, 6, and Emerson, 3. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 4
Popcorn and water were available for $1 to the nearly 50 audience members that attended the inaugural Films in 5 Festival Saturday at Park High School in Cottage Grove. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)4 / 4

Multi-colored Peeps in wedding attire danced their way to victory Saturday during the first-ever Films in 5 Festival in Cottage Grove, where longtime friends Jim Hesley and Peggy Walker’s stop-motion short “Marriage Equality Waits in 33 States” took home top honors.

It was named the first-place finisher and was awarded the fan favorite, which was decided by the nearly 50 audience members. There were six entries total.

Woodbury resident Hesley and Walker, his fellow filmmaker friend from River Falls, Wis., created the intricate two-minute short in 2014 when the gay marriage debate was front and center.

“It was a very political issue at the time and we were both very interested in politics so we thought this would be a good way, in a fun way to support that cause,” Walker said.

At the time, Minnesota had legalized gay marriage but 33 states had yet to adopt similar language. Hesley said the background music, The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” served as a subtle push for the U.S. Supreme Court to examine the issue.

“We were really involved in the marriage equality push in Minnesota, going to rallies and it was just something we really took an interest in,” Hesley said. “At the time we wanted to tell the Supreme Court, ‘Come on, let’s get this passed.’ So the song worked out perfectly.”

Despite the finished product lasting only 120 seconds, the stop-motion process took hours — approximately 40 over several weeks.

“Why not use Peeps?” Hesley laughed.

“This is our second Peeps film,” Walker said. “This was just a fun way to share our message.”

As the first-place finisher, Walker and Hesley walked away with trophies and two $50 gift cards to American Motorsports Bar and Grill.

In second place, Cottage Grove’s Tori Novotny and Paige Witt’s music video to the song “Flashlight” by pop singer Jessie J earned them two free rounds of golf from River Oaks Golf Course. And third place went to “The Note,” directed by Rachel Bownik of Rogers.

The first-ever Films in 5 Festival was organized by the Cottage Grove Arts Commission, and commission member Justin Atkinson said he hopes to make the festival an annual event.

Atkinson is a producer with the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission, the organization that judged the films.

“The reason we chose the films that we did was because we saw there was a tremendous amount of creative energy and effort that went into these films,” he said. “Being able to do stop-motion animation with those marshmallows takes a long time. And we went really went for the films where there just was a tremendous amount of passion and effort.

“And that was there in all the films, all the films were great,” Atkinson added. “But these were the films that caught our eye the most.”

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