Wayne State College

White’s Film ‘The Cross’ Wins Four IMPA Awards; Hagerdon Wins Seven

Published Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Mike White and Shelby Hagerdon
Wayne State film instructor Dr. Michael White (left) and Shelby Hagerdon pose on the red carpet during White’s film premiere of “The Cross” on Sept. 26, 2023.

Dr. Michael White and Shelby Hagerdon ’21 received numerous awards at the Iowa Motion Picture Association awards ceremony May 4.

“The Cross,” an original film by Dr. Michael White, received four Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) awards, while Wayne State College alumna Shelby Hagerdon took home seven during the IMPA Awards gala May 4 in Forest City, Iowa.

White received the Award of Achievement in the Best Editing category; Cédric Févier received the Award of Achievement in the Best Actor category; and Jessica Johnson received the Award of Excellence for Best Actress.

White and Hagerdon, a 2021 graduate of Wayne State College, received the Award of Achievement in the Best Feature category. Hagerdon won six additional awards with coworker Matt Vojacek of Made By Things, a creative content agency. The duo won Awards of Excellence and Awards of Achievement in the Animated Entertainment, Corporate and Community Marketing, and Digital Marketing categories.

Hagerdon graduated Magna cum Laude from Wayne State with High Honors in History and Interdisciplinary Studies-Film Production and Theory.

Inspired by real-life events, “The Cross” is the fourth feature film by White, associate professor of communication arts at Wayne State College. The film recounts how the Ku Klux Klan terrorized the Delore and Vivienne Morrow family in 1922 for being French Canadian Catholics in rural Iowa.

Antiques from several sources adorned the film’s sets, which were staged in various small communities throughout Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The restaurant, constructed at College Center in South Sioux City, was based on actual photos of the Morrow family restaurant. Approximately 100 period-accurate costumes were provided by project partners, with some custom-made.

The film is currently on a theatrical tour in theatres across Iowa. It won Best Screenplay and Best Iowa Filmmaker awards from the Star City Film Festival in 2023, and it has been an official selection in the White Light City Film Festival. The film is expected to be available on Amazon Prime Video in June, according to White.