STILLWATER (AP) -- Every Sunday this month, New Yorkers with a taste for documentary films have spent an hour watching five St. Croix Valley boys wax philosophical about delivering newspapers and talk about their home lives.
Their musings range from speculations of futuristic tube-based newspaper distribution systems to the corrosion of a long-standing social structure -- laced with the occasional mention of professional wrestling and rap music.
John Mills, a nationally recognized director who has created videos for pop artist Moby and artwork for the rap group Beastie boys, filmed the documentary, "Paperboys," last summer, after following six Stillwater Evening Gazette carriers on their routes, interviewing them and their families.
Linda Judkins, whose son, Nick, was featured in the film, said a crew of about 12 people, including Mills and the movie's producer, Jack Spade, followed her son around for three days.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "They were very nice. They worked around our schedule."
The 50-minute film documents the lives and work of the boys, tracking the tradition of the paper route. Spade, in an interview in the April edition of ShowTime magazine, said he wanted to document the tradition because it's in decline in many towns.
"There aren't many paperboys left," he said. "Their business has been taken over by adults and unions. It's also gone online. We had to search for a town where they still exist. The question is, what are we losing by losing this?"
One of the film's stars, 14-year-old Greg Gonisor, offered an answer to the question in the movie.
"Being a paperboy brings neighbors together," he said. "They know me, and I know them. I know where they live. It's special."
Gonisor has an answer to Mills' question about what will happen if the tradition dies out.
"We'd be losing a social structure that keeps us connected," Gonisor said.
Brandon Kindschy, an 11-year-old carrier from Oak Park Heights, discussed in the film the value of the work.
"Working hard is important, because it shows that you're doing a good job," he said. "It shows good customer service. And that's what the customers like. They like to see that you're working hard."
The movie is not entirely filled with profound commentary on culture and values, however. Each segment contains footage of the featured paperboy playing video games. Both Kindschy and Gonisor talk about rap music and their preference for it, and some of the music on the sound track reflects their musical taste.
One boy who appears briefly in the film, Tyler Rowen, is not a Stillwater Gazette carrier. The rest are. They include Kindschy of Oak Park Heights, Judkins of Bayport, Andrew Merton of Stillwater, Donnie Foster of Oak Park Heights and Gonisor of Stillwater.
The Directors Bureau, a Los Angeles-based company promoting the film, sent final copies to all of the paperboys in December. It was screened at a film festival in London and recently accepted to the Melbourne International Film festival in Australia.
In the United States, the documentary was shown at The Screening Room in New York on May 6. The organization will feature it every Sunday in May. Dan Batchelor, the director of theater operations for The Screening Room, said turnout has been mediocre for the free screening, partially because it's shown at 9 a.m. He said there were about 30 people at the first screening.
"Everything seems positive," Batchelor said. "Everybody I saw came out pretty pleased."
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