2019 Frozen River Film Festival
For inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org
2019 Frozen River Film Festival
2019 Frozen River Film Festival
For inquiries, email@example.com
Our team works to make sure that you have all the correct information regarding our program of events. However, schedules change and updates need to be made. Please make note of the following information.
Shack Shorts | Feb. 12 | CANCELLED
Due to thin ice on the lake FRFF will not show films in ice shacks on Lake Winona as previously advertised. There are still plenty of activities happening during the Winter Carnival.
Brewery Tours at Island City Brewing Company | Feb. 17 | CANCELLED
We regret to announce that the Brewery Tour at Island City Brewing Company will be cancelled tomorrow. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Fishnet Stockings | Feb. 19 | CANCELLED
Due to a family emergency, the artist presenting Fishnet Stocking will not be able to bring her work to Winona.
Updates to the printed program:
pg. 14 Dance on Camera
Correct Address: 119 W. 3rd Street
pg. 17 Winona Pollinator-Friendly Efforts
correct address: Winona Friendship Center | 251 Main Street
pg. 18 Adventure Unknown
In Person: Dana Johnson
Pg. 18 1-800-GIVE-US-YOUR-KIDNEY
In Person: Harold Mintz
pg. 22 Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia
In Person: Connie Self
pg. 23 John Latsch
In Person: Mary Farrell, Blake Darst, Barbara Allaire
pg. 24 Love of Place
In Person: Deeps Russell
pg. 27 The Seeker
In Person: Jeff Johnson
pg. 28 Throw
In Person: Coffin Nachtmahr
pg. 32 SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Films at Winona 7
9:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Pg. 33 SUNDAY SCHEDULE
“Dodo’s Delight” is pure, unrelenting fun. Directed by Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll, It is is a lighthearted romp filled with sea shanties, campy situations, harrowing mountain ascents and non-stop laughter.
The film follows O’Driscoll and his group on a trip from Greenland to Baffin Island aboard the sailboat Dodo’s Delight in a quest for untouched rock faces to climb. The group is a rowdy bunch, consisting of brothers Olivier and Nicolas Favresse, “lone yank” Ben Ditto, O’Driscoll himself and their endlessly sleepy captain, Reverend Bob Shepton. Together, they travel the seas in search of new challenges with grins on their faces, instruments in hand and plenty of wine.
This isn’t a documentary in the typical sense. There are rarely, if any, interviews, an almost complete lack of explanation and constant comic situations. “Dodo’s Delight” is more of an observational look at endearing adventurers out in their natural habitat. Viewpoints are split equally among the crew, making sure not to let any one person’s views take over. While O’Driscoll is the narrator, the star of the film is the group itself.
When focusing a film on a team, it’s imperative for there to be a sense of individuality from the players fused with ongoing camaraderie. The crew of Dodo’s Delight is exactly that: A tightly knit group of individuals with their own characters and traits. While much of the work they do is harrowing and dangerous, they never fail to crack a joke to lighten the mood.
If anything, “Dodo’s Delight” is a film for and by the filmmakers. Nothing is quite perfect in the film, with shots occasionally looking slightly off or subpar and a barebones story, but that’s aside from the point. They’re not trying to prove a point or inform audiences of a topic, but instead just having some laughs and showing what they do for a living.
O’Driscoll and his crew are all characters, and the dynamic between them elevates the film and keeps it interesting and entertaining. It’s not just an entertaining flick for the viewers, but you can tell that the group was having an absolute blast putting everything together. It’s complete and utter fun, through and through.
That’s not to say the film isn’t interesting as an adventure film, either. Free climbing is a terrifying and exciting sport, and the members of the Dodo’s Delight crew are professionals. The sheer cliff faces they ascend are part of some of the most breathtaking scenery you will ever see, and their camerawork is precise and well framed.
Surprisingly, though, the adventure part of the film takes a heavy backseat to the real life characters on the Dodo’s Delight. Watching their interactions and playful banter lets the film shine on its own. By not falling back on constant action footage and instead focusing on the situations and people, “Dodo’s Delight” is campy documentary fun that sets itself apart from the crowd. To put it simply, the film is an utter delight for audiences of all ages.
Review by Nate Nelson
Salam Neighbor is more than just a documentary. Directed by Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci, the film depicts their time in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, as they live alongside more than 85,000 Syrian refugees. The two filmmakers were the UN’s first dicumentarians allowed to cover what is one of the world’s most harrowing crises. However, “Salam Neighbor” doesn’t stop at just showcasing the refugees struggles: It gives them a voice, and shows their aspirations, hopes and fears. “Salam” is a lovely and affecting film that serves as a near-perfect documentation of Jordan’s refugee crisis.
Temple and Ingrasci’s journey begins several months before the beginning of their stay, when they created their non-profit Living on One. With this, they hoped to create documentaries highlighting the struggles of the disenfranchised. For their first project, they chose the Syrian refugee crisis. They hoped that by living the same way as the refugees, they would be able to understand the humanity behind such a massive issue. In that sense, the two succeed in spades.
The film is split between explanation of the crisis and problems, and intimate interviews with refugees and UN workers. Instead of settling for simply informing audiences of the struggles, they also let the emotions of the refugees (and the filmmakers themselves) take center stage. The interviews are often harrowing, depressing, and wholly disenchanting. However, glimmers of hope and pride slip through the cracks. Even in the face of such intense hardships, the people of Za’atari are shown to be not only resilient, but proud of who they are and their lifestyles. Over the course of the film, Temple and Ingasci show how the camp grew from a field of tents and relocated people to a bustling, yet small, economic village.
Going back to the emotions, this is a very emotional film on all sides. Children living out their days without a home, school, or even a full family. Mothers struggling to care for or even enjoy being around their children. Families violently ripped from their homes. These facts of the Syrian crisis come right to the forefront, to astounding effect. Temple himself breaks down in one scene after playing with a child. The struggles of the refugees are laid out plain and clear, and any documentary that creates emotion in the viewer deserves remarkable praise.
Salam Neighbor is not, however, a depressing film. Harrowing, yes, but also filled to the brim with hope. As one of the refugees, Ghassem, says, “If you find someone deeply traumatized, the first thing you should do is plant the seed of hope.” Temple and Isgrasci manage to sow that seed into the audience itself, using the stories of five refugees to show the humanity behind one of the most misunderstood crises of the modern era. “Salam” is more than just a documentary. It’s a film that can truly push viewers to action, and for that alone, it’s an absolute must-see.
2/19 • 10:00 a.m. • Winona State University, SLC 120
Review by: Nate Nelson
Chasing Niagara plays February 11 at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro, MN | 4:00 p.m.
When tragedy strikes, it is just a part of human nature to look for the point when it all went wrong. In Rafa Ortiz’s film Chasing Niagara, Ortiz uses the documentary format to trace a perilous journey back to its roots. With a group of fellow kayakers, Ortiz films the preparation of his biggest feat yet: Running Niagara Falls. Yet, while it may have started out as a typical adventure film, an accident midway through sent the production into a spiral. In the end, Chasing Niagara is a visually arresting and well-rounded meditation on the fragility of human life and the lengths people can go to to face that head-on.
Ortiz is a world renowned kayaker, known primarily for his waterfall runs. After years of running some of the most dangerous terrain on Earth, he sets his sight on the vast expanse of Niagara. Amassing a team of equally talented individuals, Ortiz and his crew prepare for this massive run by running numerous incredible locales, including the treacherous Rio Santo Domingo. These runs are absolute nail biters, with multiple camera angles and GoPro footage edited together to give each run it’s own sense of immediacy and danger.
The runs themselves would make for an interesting documentary in their own right, but thanks to one single editing choice, the sequences take on a new meaning. The film begins with a harrowing sequence ending in the apparent death of Gerd Serrasolses which then winds back to where the journey began. By placing this at the beginning instead of just chronologically, Ortiz allows the dangers of his sport to come to the forefront. Though it turns out that Serrasolses survives the attempt, the editing gives the documentary a theme, which many adventure films lack.
Credit goes to the visuals as well. Chasing Niagara is consistently breathtaking. Occasionally, some of the interviews are a little out of focus or shaky, and seem relatively amateurish in the grand scheme of things. However, the moment the kayaks touch the water, the film takes on new life. Lush colors, beautiful editing, and the combination of multiple viewpoints make each sequence individually astounding. These are some of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen, bar none. Ortiz and his crew know what they’re doing with this from top to bottom.
The only real qualm I have with the film, aside from the tonal shift from the intro to the title sequence, is that the film focuses too heavily on the kayaking itself. That’s not to say the kayaking is bad, far from it. However, Chasing Niagara fails to really look into the psyches and connections between the crew members. There’s some analysis here and there, and some interesting interactions, but the film by-and-large avoids deeper looks into anyone but Ortiz himself. Additionally, there isn’t a whole lot of explanation of how they do what they do, only that they do it. This isn’t a huge problem, but for those unaffiliated with professional kayaking, this extra information could’ve allowed for a stronger connection to the crew’s actions.
All-in-all, Chasing Niagara is a masterful adventure documentary. The problems don’t even begin to compare to everything that goes right. With mesmerizing filmmaking, a breathtaking score and impactful story, the film’s message hits like a typhoon. This isn’t just a documentary of kayaking, but a documentary of one man discovering what truly matters in life, and how a person’s experiences can change everything they once thought they knew.
Review by: Nate Nelson
Minneapolis-based indie rock wunderkinds Cloud Cult have always been known for their theatrical, visual music. After tragedy struck in 2002 to lead singer Craig Minowa’s two-year-old son Kaidin, the band released some of their most impactful work, with albums like They Live on the Sun and Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus. With The Seeker, Cloud Cult crafts their most cinematic work yet, with the band’s acting as the score for a film of the same name. Directed by Jeff D. Johnson and starring Alex McKenna and Josh Radnor, The Seeker is a beautifully minimalistic journey through familial tragedy. Using dreamy cinematography and a barebones plot, Cloud Cult’s first visual album allows the music to sit front and center, telling a uniquely personal tale of self-discovery.
The film tells the story of a young girl, Grace, whose idealistic rural life is uprooted by a tragic event in her youth. As she grows older, she turns bitter and narcissistic, moving away from the joy she witnessed as a child. Yet, after a memory from her past returns, she is sent on a long journey of personal discovery, reflection, and understanding. It’s a tale that is both heartbreaking and uplifting, which is a perfect fit for Cloud Cult’s danceable philosophical style.
The Seeker is a bit of an oddity in the film world in that it lines up with a very specific form, namely the visual album. Visual albums are films driven by a band’s music, falling more in line with music videos than typical filmmaking. With roots in the 1960s and 70s with works like The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the term was coined by experimental band Animal Collective with their 2010 release Oddsac, and since then the form has been on a bit of a mainstream comeback. While bands like Daft Punk dabbled with the form in the early 2000s with films like Interstellar 55555, the visual album has really come into a stride with artists like Kanye West, Beyonce, and Frank Ocean all releasing their own visual albums.
What sets these apart from other films are their adherence to the music. The music rarely act as just the score, but instead as the main thread tying all the visuals together. The Seeker is no different, with only two words being spoken throughout the entire film. Instead, Minowa’s vocals give each sequence the emotional and narrative thrust they need, acting as a sort of screenplay for the film. Knowing Minowa’s past trauma with familial loss, the film acts as a look into his psyche as a grieving father, wondering what the world might be like if he took his child’s place.
Johnson’s directorial flair has its roots in the films of Terrence Malick, with slowly paced editing centered on small moments and actions. For The Seeker, this works to capitalize on the surreal world of personal tragedy, acting as both an outward depiction of the events and a deeper character study of Grace. Like many other visual albums, the editing follows the music closely to let each sequence act as its own music video, with the few pauses used to add narrative context and closer looks at the characters’ lives.
The only problem is the film can often seem too stark and empty for its own good.With the music as emotionally driven as it is, The Seeker feels too clean for the story it’s depicting. The emotions are there, and the story is incredibly affecting, but every so often the film feels like it lacks detail. On the other hand, this visual minimalism does lend a stronger focus to the music and narrative, so it’s not a huge loss, but it would’ve been nice to see some more interesting visuals from time to time.
Thanks to Cloud Cult’s flair for storytelling, The Seeker is an entirely new kind of visual album. Unlike the abstract psychedelic menagerie of Animal Collective’s Oddsac, or the music video mashup of Beyonce’s Lemonade, Cloud Cult’s film is first and foremost a narratively driven film. The combination of minimalistic visuals, intense emotional music, and a deeply personal narrative makes for a visual album that is more film-oriented than any released in the past decade. Johnson’s eye for unique imagery and the subtle, yet adept performances from McKenna and Radnor work to make The Seeker an absolute must-see this festival season. If you’re a fan of either good music or great filmmaking, be sure to check it out.
People’s Choice Award: Landfill Harmonic directed by Graham Townsley & Brad Allgood
Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.
Student Choice Award: The Important Places directed by Forest Woodward
First Place Feature Length (Juried Award): East LA Interchange directed by Betsy Kalin directed by Betsy Kalin
East LA Interchange follows the evolution of working-class, immigrant Boyle Heights from multiethnic to predominately Latino and a center of Mexican-American culture in the U.S. The film shows how Boyle Heights survived the building of the largest and busiest freeway interchange system in North America that threatened to destroy their neighborhood. The documentary explores how the freeways – a symbol of Los Angeles ingrained in America’s popular imagination – impact Boyle Heights’ residents: literally, as an environmental hazard and structural blockade and figuratively, as a conversational interchange about why the future of their beloved community should matter to us all.
Second Place Feature Length (Juried Award): Almost There directed by Dan Rybicky
For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare: the utility companies long ago shut off the heat and electricity, the floorboards are rotting, and the detritus of a chaotic life is precariously stacked to the ceiling. But for the filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, Anton’s home is a treasure trove, a startling collection of unseen and fascinating paintings, drawings, and notebooks, not to mention Anton himself, a character worthy of his own reality TV show. Though aging, infirm, cranky, and solitary, Anton also is funny and utterly resilient. Rybicky and Wickenden’s remarkable journey follows a gifted artist through startling twists and turns. By its quietly satisfying ending, Almost There has provided enough human drama for a season of soap operas, plus insights into mental illness, aging in America, and the redemptive power of art.
If you are looking for more films after FRFF check out the Rochester International Film Festival. The Rochester International Film Festival will be hosting films for its 21st annual festival! The festival is located at Wehrenberg Galaxy 14 Cine Theater April 15 – 21. More information at http://www.rifg.org/.
There may not be snow sticking to the ground just yet, but it is still our favorite time of the year to cozy up on the couch with a blanket and a drink to watch some great films. We’ve compiled a group that is sure to peak your interest these cold winter months until the 2016 Frozen River Film Festival.
An old favorite from 2009 FRFF, “The Devil Came on Horseback” exposes the story of an Arab run government in Sudan plotting a genocide to rid the country of their black African citizens.
You can watch this film on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sULNw17rEQ
In the mood for a bit of an adventure? “Random Lunacy” follows Poppa Neutrino in his nomadic trek around the globe, as he and his family seek random adventure and riches.
Watch the film here: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/random_lunacy
“Under Our Skin” brings awareness to the horrors of Lyme’s Disease, showing the controversy surrounding medical wrongdoing and neglect.
Check out the film here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/26876
There are many other FRFF alumni that are accessible online. Head to our film archive to find inspiration for some more treasures to watch during the frigid Minnesota winters.