Yes They Cannes: Couple’s movie shows at Cannes Festival


On the heels of its standing ovation at the Miami International Film Festival, and as one of the top 48 Hour Film Project films from 2008, Birthmarked for Death, created by Uptown couple Erika Backberg and Eric Nigg, had its international premiere at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival May 19.

Birthmarked For Death was made in June of 2008 as a part of the 48 Hour Film Project. The short was co-written and co-starred in by Eric Nigg and co-produced by Erika Backberg–both of the CARAG neighborhood. The film followed its wins in Minnesota for Best Screenplay, Best Character, Best Cinematography, People’s Choice and the grand prize, Best Picture by beating out a record 90 plus films. Made in Minnesota, the short film went on to screenings nationwide, gaining accolades for Best Screenplay at the South Dakota Film Festival and nominated for Best Screenplay at the Miami International Film Festival.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which self-selected teams make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just under 48 hours. On Friday night, you get a character, prop, line of dialogue, and a genre, all to include in your movie. In 2008, 2,700 filmmakers made films in 70 international cities. Birthmarked For Death made the top 14 films which are being screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Cannes Film festival is located in Cannes, a resort village on south coast of France. The festival was founded in 1946 and is one of the world’s oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals in the world. The private festival is held annually in May and was hosted in 2008 by Sean Penn.

“We are still speechless! It has been a wonderful surprise for us” says Nigg.

The couple have been producing live comedy shows and creating short films together in the Twin Cities since 2004. You may recall an earlier article that appeared in the December issue of the UNN titled Almost Famous. The couple co-founded and became executive producers of The Label Sketch Comedy Team with local filmmaker Matt Olson and comedian Mitch Hansen. Since the inception of The Label in 2004, the team has worked tirelessly to carve out a niche for themselves in the alternative comedy and independent film markets through producing their own shows. Their work is self-defined as finding irony and humor in profoundly sad moments. “We never knew exactly what our signature comedic style would evolve into but after a few years it just took shape right before our eyes,” says Backberg. ‘Birthmarked for Death’ is a polished work of comedy, which displays this comedic style without ever seeming dark or heavy. The amusing film lightens up an odd relationship that forms between a novice hit man (Mitch Hansen) and his victim, an undercover cop (Eric Nigg).

Backberg, born and raised in St. Paul, began her art career in 2003. In addition to producing independent media, Backberg is an active community organizer, teaches community focused youth media at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), and is the principal artist of Tea Tree Designs Eco-Jewelry and Multimedia Studios. As an active member of the fashion and art community she has eco-jewelry and photography for sale online at and in local boutiques such as Cliché, The Wedge Co-op and Twin Cities Green.

Nigg grew up in Browns Valley, Minnesota (which he refers to as the “booger bump” on the western border of Minnesota) and had his comedy debut in 1999 at the Siston Theater in Sisseton, South Dakota. The show was an original collection of comedic sketches and musical numbers, performed with Mitch Hansen and other childhood friends. Since then, with The Label, Nigg has co-written and produced over 30 original multi-media comedy shows and films in the Twin Cities. He has toured individually, performing a unique brand of stand-up at comedy clubs across the country. Nigg recently signed with The Mosiac Media Group out of Los Angles. Mosaic is the premiere comedy agency in the country resenting the likes of Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Sacha Baron Cohen and Judd Apatow.

Backberg and Nigg attended the Cannes Festival May 14 to 25 and plan to participate again in the 48 Hour Film Competition this year in mid-June.

To watch Birthmarked for Death, visit

Support people-powered non-profit journalism! Volunteer, contribute news, or become a member to keep the Daily Planet in orbit.