Minnesota Mean

A year in the lives of six members of the Minnesota Roller Derby, as they compete to win the Hydra, the top international prize of the sport. When the star of the team gets injured, will her teammates find their own power?

MINNESOTA MEAN is a human drama about the pounding heart of roller derby: powerful, self-sufficient women. It’s a vital and relevant story of triumph, loss, strength, determination, and a search for balance between individuality and community. How do women who pride themselves on their hard-won independence thrive in a sport that requires them to rely on a team? How do they meet the full-time demands of the sport without sacrificing their own dreams for life outside the rink? A meditation on strength: in our bodies, our hearts, our minds, and our friendships.

  • Dawn Mikkelson
    Risking Light, The Red Tail, Green Green Water
  • Brickyard
    Key Cast
  • Hurtrude Stein
    Key Cast
  • Shiver Me Kimbers
    Key Cast
  • Smoka Hontas
    Key Cast
  • Diamond Rough
    Key Cast
  • Switch Please
    Key Cast
  • Dessa
  • Jim Tittle
    Director of Photography
    The Price of Sand
  • Nanne Sørvold
    Fem 101
  • Doug Blush
    Editing Consultant
    20 Feet from Stardom, Rock Camp, Icarus, Period End of Sentence
  • Dawn Mikkelson
  • Dawn Mikkelson
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Sports, Women
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 20 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 28, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    247,098 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    April 15, 2023
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Dawn Mikkelson

Dawn Mikkelson (Director/Producer/Editor) - Emmy Award winning producer and McKnight Filmmaking Fellow, whose work has broadcast and screened internationally. Festival screenings of her feature documentaries include: the Galway Film Fleadh, Cinequest, Mill Valley Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, DOC NYC, Cucalorus, Frameline Film Festival, and American Indian Film Festival. Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 Mikkelson will premiere two films about powerful women in the world of taiko drumming (FINDING HER BEAT) and roller derby (MINNESOTA MEAN).

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Director Statement

I first experienced Roller Derby, when close friend Bernasty (Lisa Math) joined the Minnesota Roller Derby. I watched as she grew in her confidence and simultaneously joined one of the most supportive communities of women I'd ever witnessed.

In a media culture that still tends to pit women against one other as adversaries, derby culture is the opposite. Unfortunately, roller derby has consistently been portrayed as a frivolous hobby with girls in short skirts and fishnets fighting for the titillation of male fans. The Minnesota Mean are done with that portrayal and so am I – as a woman, as a mother of two young girls, and as a filmmaker. They represent something rarely seen in popular culture: powerful women who are dedicated to each other and who simultaneously embrace and defy both gender stereotypes and physical preconceptions of what an athlete looks like. Body positivity and athleticism go hand in hand with roller derby.

When I explained this vision to the Minnesota Roller Derby (formerly Minnesota Roller Girls), they jumped on board for this project immediately, excited for the world to see them as they are: a group of serious athletes who are as fiercely dedicated to each other as they are to their sport.

Minnesota Mean is dedicated to our Director of Photography, Jim Tittle, who passed from cancer in 2020.