NMU Hosts 'A Two Hearted Tale' Film Screenings

Northern Michigan University's DeVos Art Museum will host screenings of the film, A Two Hearted Tale, a heartfelt look at the history of the iconic trout label adorning the Bell's Brewing IPA by that name and its eccentric artist, Ladislav Hanka. Daily screenings will take place at 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday through Dec. 15, with an additional 7 p.m. screening on Thursdays. A special screening at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, in room 165 of the Art and Design Building will feature a Q&A with the filmmakers afterward via Zoom.

The story of the Bell's Two Hearted IPA label twists and turns over the span of 40 years. The legends behind this label and many others have been buried in folklore, but the vision created at Bell's started a revolution in the craft brewing industry that changed what a beer label could be–a piece of art. This is the unconventional story of Hanka, an artist and naturalist from Kalamazoo. His love of fishing, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and beer found its way into every store in America.

The film was co-directed by Bret Miller and Rory K. McHarg.

“Beer and fishing go hand in hand, but the animal itself had never been used as a marketing tool, let alone the face of a brand, until the introduction of the iconic Bell's Two-Hearted Ale,” wrote McHarg in a director's statement. “Did the beer taste fishy? Of course not; the art was curated separately from the product—an eccentric strategy. Upon closer inspection, all of Larry Bell's classic brews demanded an eccentric visual to engage customers. Each recipe had a distinct taste, a sense of place—wonder and escapism, yearning for a visual representation to match.”

Bell started brewing and opened a home-brew shop in 1983, the statement continued. He had met Hanka, whom he asked to create illustrations as labels for his beer.

“What was the rhyme or reason behind each image? Were they connected? Or were they simply arbitrary muses? Regardless, the artwork was unconventional, unlike anything we'd seen before in the brewing industry,” McHarg added.

Prepared By

Julia Seitz
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU