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Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity

Year: 2020, 57 mins
Code: SPE-Hitch

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Emmy winner: Best Cultural Documentary

As the US deals with a toxic political climate, Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity takes a look back to the turbulent social upheaval of the early 1970s. The documentary follows an idealistic writer and his soon-to-be-married photographer friend as they set out to find their purpose via a terrifying road trip across the Sahara Desert. 

Their story is a riveting profile in curiosity, breakdowns and determination. The discovery at the end of their journey: all politics are personal.” 
Ross Gelbspan, co-recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and author of The Heat is On and Boiling Point


Armed with degrees in film and economics from the University of Michigan, EMMY-winning filmmaker Petersen began his career on the feature film Zebrahead. Along with working in John Hughes’ office, his résumé includes work on “Antiques Roadshow,” “Rescue 911,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” Fox News, BBC, VH1, the Food Network, MGM Home Entertainment and several feature films and commercials.

Petersen produced and directed the award-winning, feature-length documentary Out Of The Loop, which explored Chicago’s underground music scene and featured such Windy City notables as Veruca Salt, the Jesus Lizard, and Steve Albini. This movie enjoyed a 15-city tour of colleges and universities and played at several festivals around the United States and Europe. Out Of The Loop was broadcast on PBS.

He delved deep into the cutthroat world of tournament Scrabble® with his award-winning 2003 documentary, Scrabylon, which he produced, directed and edited. Media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, TimeOut New York and the syndicated entertainment news program “Extra!” have all featured stories on Scrabylon. After numerous festivals and screenings around the United States, this acclaimed doc was featured on PBS and is now available on DVD.

The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz, the story of how an American treasure hunter and a brilliant, self-taught Mexican artist transformed a dying desert village into a home for world-class art, won numerous awards at film festivals and screened at several museums and universities around the country. It was broadcast on PBS and won an Emmy for Best Cultural Documentary.

His documentaries have been presented at such film festivals as: San Diego Film Festival, Calgary Int’l Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Dallas Video Festival, Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Sonoma Valley Film Festival, Sedona Int’l Film Festival, Durango Film Festival, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival, Cine Las Americas Film Festival and DocUtah: Southern Utah Int’l Film Festival, amongst others.


Emmy-winner: Best Cultural Documentary

This is a really enjoyable, absorbing documentary. I loved the camera work, the music, and the whole project had the feel of an Errol Morris film.” 
Ken Nolan, screenwriter Black Hawk Down

Dick Russell and I are both boomers, both born in ‘47. Both part of the counterculture. Both hippies looking to change the world. But only one of us trekked across the Sahara. I’m a Jew, Dick is not. Guess which one of us made the journey? What an adventure!
Filmmaker Rob Reiner

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