Meet the unusual attendees of a small town Wisconsin UFO festival who have been watching the skies and communicating with extraterrestrials for decades.
Filmmaker Mark Borchardt, subject of the 1999 documentary American Movie about his struggle to produce an independent horror film with friends and family, returns with his first short film in over 20 years. The Dundee Project is a 19-minute doc that examines the unique characters who populate a local UFO hotspot in Dundee, Wisconsin.
Strange things have been happening around the small town of Dundee for a long time. Located in the heart of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the area draws hundreds of thousands annually for it’s bountiful hiking, fishing, and camping. But for decades, visitors and residents alike have been baffled and sometimes even frightened by oddly-shaped objects in the sky over Long Lake, lights in the watery depths beneath, and numerous other unexplained phenomena like lake monsters and wolfmen.
In 1988, following a particularly bizarre incident in which reeds were found flattened and woven into a circular formation thick enough to walk on without falling through into the water, tavern owner Bill Benson and the late Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn decided to host a gathering where everyone could share their experiences.
Decades later, UFO Daze is still held every year on the third Saturday in July. Believers and skeptics alike gather at Benson’s Hide-a-Way, the “UFO Headquarters,” to enjoy a cup of spiked green punch and wear artfully crafted tinfoil hats.
The Dundee Project opens with Borchardt’s drive north into the hinterlands (passing right behind the Cult of Weird hive along the way) as he recalls in voice-over about learning of the festival on the “sad, infinite wastelands of cable television.”
He first attended UFO Daze in 2001 after discovering it was within driving distance of his hometown of Milwaukee. “I consulted the charts and realized that it was practically in my own backyard,” he says.
He brought his camera along and filmed a series of interviews with the festival’s curious participants as he returned year after year to what he calls “a lakeside haven for the thirsty and the curious.”
Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn
Mark speaks to several attendees who have personally witnessed extraterrestrial activity, but the primary reason to watch are his conversations with UFO Bob. Bob was a radio personality who used his show to transmit messages to extraterrestrials. The same ones, apparently, who tune in to Green Bay Packers games.
Bob is even in direct communication with a female alien named Eveata whom he refers to at one point during the film as his girlfriend.
Mark doesn’t seem to buy it, prodding Bob with questions that challenge his claims. My favorite moments occur in the outtakes and deleted scenes (thankfully included in both DVD and digital download formats), with Mark’s frustration over Bob’s unshakable beliefs. This is particularly evident when Bob informs Mark that aliens “tampered” with a photo of a UFO over Benson’s that Mark feels is obviously digitally manipulated.
Waiting for aliens to arrive at UFO Daze
I’ve spent the last several years researching the phenomena around Long Lake, including several recent expeditions to the area and a hike to the top of Dundee Mountain, an ancient glacial formation at the southern end of the lake that some believe is the origin of the unusual activity. I even attended the 30th annual UFO Daze in 2018. I haven’t seen anything myself, but it doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s actually aliens or just hi-tech trickery (I’ve heard rumors of hoaxes perpetrated during UFO Daze) the evidence is irrefutable to the denizens of Benson’s, who sit in their lawn chairs at the edge of the lake patiently awaiting visitors from outer space.
As UFO Bob says, “What we’re seeing out here is there.”
The Dundee Project is part humor and part mystery, guaranteed to either ignite your conspiracy theory-fueled paranoia or leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.
Either way, keep looking up.
The Dundee Project trailer narrated by Wisconsin native Jason Vernon of Bon Iver
Order The Dundee Project now right here.