The developers of “Capone’s Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye” showed the 75-minute movie last week at Terrace Hill to Gov. Terry Branstad (center) and a collection of his family and friends. Director Kristian Day (right) flanks Branstad along with Andrew Tomes, Temple Rye Spirits’ Iowa brand ambassador.
The developers of “Capone’s Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye” showed the 75-minute movie last week at Terrace Hill to Gov. Terry Branstad (center) and a collection of his family and friends. Director Kristian Day (right) flanks Branstad along with Andrew Tomes, Temple Rye Spirits’ Iowa brand ambassador.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gov. Terry Branstad started with his own questions after the lights came up and the credits rolled.

How is Gus Schroeder of Wall Lake? How are folks in Templeton doing, people with family trees rooted in farming and the rye whiskey trade?

The five-term governor, well-known for his archival knowledge of Iowa lore and command of the names and faces of local leaders (and characters), came well-prepared for a discussion with the producer and director of “Capone’s Whiskey: The Story Of Templeton Rye,” which screened last week for Branstad’s family and friends at Terrace Hill, the governor’s mansion in Des Moines.

“This movie provided a very interesting history of Templeton Rye,” Branstad told The Daily Times Herald. “It was a good movie. We enjoyed it. We had a special viewing of it at Terrace Hill, had friends over, and everyone really enjoyed it.”

A 75-minute documentary, “Capone’s Whiskey: The Story of Templeton Rye” chronicles the life of the liquor from its illicit founding and the early bootlegging days under the late Joe Irlbeck (described by Day as the local “kingpin” of the rye trade) to Scott Bush, president of the modern-day, legal incarnation of the product, TR Spirits.

Kristian Day, president and founder of Des Moines-based Modern American Cinema, which produced the film, said he set up a projector in a room in Terrace Hill last Wednesday, moved chairs into a viewing area, and showed the film to the governor and First Lady Chris Branstad and about 20 other people.

“You don’t get the opportunity too often to have something like that,” Day said.

Day said he spoke to the governor for about 20 minutes after the screening. The governor knew much of the backstory and quickly asked about Schroeder, a Wall Lake leader and agribusinessman with family ties to Prohibition rye and the modern Bush operation.

In addition to entering film contests and local events, such as the one with the governor, Day is touring “Capone’s Whiskey.” Modern America Cinema has screened the movie at theaters across Iowa, ranging from Pocahontas to Marshalltown to Iowa City.

The Terrace Hill event is a highlight for Day, 26.

“It was a huge honor,” Day said. “At age 26 to have one of my pieces of work asked to be seen by the governor and his family — I’m kind of speechless.”

A half-hour version of the documentary, “Templeton Rye: Iowa’s Good Stuff,” recently earned top honors in non-fiction short at a Cleveland, Ohio, contest, the Short, Sweet, Film Festival.

Last fall, the shorter movie premiered on Iowa Public Television in conjunction with filmmaker Ken Burns’ national production, “Prohibition.”

Day’s team shot 38 hours of footage related to Templeton and whiskey.

Both films soon will be released on DVD with some extended footage from the shoots in the package.