"Stout Hearted"
                      George Stout the Man Who Saved Art (working title)       


"New Mile Media Arts will produce a sixty-minute documentary film with the working title: "Stout Hearted: George Stout the Man Who Saved Art". It tells the story of George Stout, an art student from Winterset, Iowa, who became the leader of the Monuments Men. "This group, a military special forces unit, was assigned the mission of retrieving stolen art from the Nazis". The film will also explore Stout’s pioneering efforts in the areas of art conservation, which elevated this discipline into the world of modern science. Many of his discoveries are used globally today to preserve masterworks from deterioration and extinction. After completion, the film will be distributed on public television stations statewide, regionally and later via internet streaming.  The film will also tour Iowa art museums, where it will be shown with a panel discussion including the filmmaker and local art scholars.


In 1939, almost 5,000 works of art were burned on Hitler’s orders.  They had been judged too abstract or did not conform to Nazi ideology; their destruction would help “purify” the German art world.  With the invasion of France, the Nazis pillaged the Louvre in Paris, stealing thousands of valuable works of art.  Works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Vermeer were destined for Hitler’s collection, which would one day fill the new museum he was building in his hometown of Linz, Austria.

The Monuments Men, a group of unlikely middle-aged military veterans, were appointed by FDR to a highly specialized force.  These military experts were accomplished museum directors, curators, art historians, archivists, architects, educators, and artists.  They all shared a common goal: to rescue cultural treasures from the destruction of war—and theft by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  It would not be easy.  In one of the group’s most daring and dangerous missions, Lt. George Stout from Winterset, Iowa (the same hometown as movie star John Wayne), was deployed to the mining town of Altausse, Austria.  There was a rumor that many valuable works of art were sealed in a salt mine.  Stout and his men had only four days to break through the rubble with picks and shovels before the Soviet occupation would begin, leaving the destiny of the art uncertain.  As retold in the recent Hollywood film “The Monuments Men,” the Americans did break through in time to claim the art treasures and begin the arduous process of returning them to their rightful owners.  By the end of the war, more than five million works of art were saved.  And after Japan’s official surrender in 1945, Stout created a division in Tokyo to similarly preserve the art of Japan and other cultures.

Decades later, controversy remains with disputed ownership of pieces of art which were unlawfully gifted to descendants of families who acquired art during the Nazi regime.  And although the destruction of artistic treasures has been condemned as a war crime by UNESCO, the decimation of art continues in regions of the world that are embroiled in conflict.   UNESCO is leading a movement to educate both leaders and citizens throughout the world on the importance of preserving the cultural heritage of humanity.

When Stout returned to the U.S., he became the director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. The art he saved is displayed today in the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and other major museums around the world and his conservation techniques, particularly his use of x-ray technology, are employed today by major institutions such as the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute.


Public screenings will be scheduled in 14 communities throughout Iowa.  Following the viewing, a discussion will take place between the filmmakers, local art historians and experts from each community, and members of the public. The communities (also indicated on the application cover sheet are: Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des, Moines, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Maquoketa, Marshalltown, Mason City, Okoboji, Sioux City, and Winterset. The venue in each city is listed on a separate sheet (titled Program Locations) attached to the Grant Application Cover Sheet. Attendance at each showing will depend on the area population. The screenings will be open to all citizens and age groups.

The panel will promote a lively open conversation, commentary, and Q&A among audience members regarding the film project, its process and mission, and the greater artistic and humanitarian message. As the director of the documentary film Jackson Pollock’s Mural produced at the University of Iowa, Kevin Kelley, founder of New Mile Media Arts, has recently completed a tour of Iowa communities, including many of those listed above. Open panel discussions with this tour proved to add to community experience and engagement while aiding in evaluation and community involvement from the production team. A similar strategy will be promoted during the tour of this film project, as production members are adamant about the beneficial effects of open discussions.

New Mile Media Arts is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to the film, regardless of schedule, location, age, or social class.  For this reason, the film will be made viewable at no cost online through its educational website.  Strong qualitative evaluation will be demonstrated by the number of individual views as the film is uploaded online; this information is rapidly accessible and signals public interest in the film.  The production will also be released to Iowa Public Television for educational, distributional, and promotional purposes.  Iowa Public Television screenings will expose a large regional audience to the film and allow Iowans to take pride in a fellow citizen whose mark on the world may have been, for many, unknown until now.

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​​ https://vimeo.com/219113451