Why Everyone Loves Winona: It’s showtime


by Cynthya Porter, columnist

It’s cold. I know – the kind of cold that makes you want to hunker down under a blanket to watch a good movie. Well, here in Winona, we like to hunker down, too, but we do it together at the Frozen River Film Festival, and we don’t just watch one movie – we watch about 40 of them. We celebrate our coldness. Heck, we named a festival after it.

Oh, “films,” you say? *yawn* That’s just for intellectuals and students.

Well not so fast, Danielson (that’s a “Karate Kid” reference for all you movie buffs). If you had never been to this film festival then you might think that. You’d be wrong, but I understand the stereotype.

Yes, these are documentaries, but definitely not the kind of stuff you fell asleep to in 10th-grade social studies. (Social studies teachers, don’t call me. Some of those films are really boring.) These are films about action and adventure and life and the world, and they make you happy and sad and inspired and smarter. I wish I could say richer and more successful too, but that might be taking it too far.

Like action flicks? Then you’ll love “Dedicated — Free Diving,” a film about a guy who swims with orcas, or the films about fire dancers and adventure rafters, or the documentary about rock climbing in a place that’s difficult to get to and impossible to forget.

There are films about all kinds of things that people are doing all over the world – a group striving for clean water solutions, one about civil disobedience for a cause, another about a man carrying a crew of base jumpers, circus artists, sick people, and children on a sailboat around Greenland just so they can see it ... it’s all there. There are powerful films, sad ones, happy ones, fascinating ones, some that are all of the above – the one thing they have in common is that they open up a world to the viewers that most would never see any other way.

The Frozen River Film Festival brings in some of the very same films that PACKED the house at the Telluride and Sundance film festivals – you know, where people like Penélope Cruz and Mickey Rooney hang out – though probably not together. And some of the films being shown this week are narrated by famous people, and some have even been nominated for national awards. We’re not kidding around here, folks.

You can listen to live music, get connected to all the great volunteer opportunities in Winona, and hang out with some interesting people at this festival. Oh yeah, and you can keep your kids busy just about all day for free with the kids’ film set and other activities just for little ones. Oh yeah, and kids are free – so are all students with an ID. This festival is seriously the coolest thing that will happen for 100 miles this winter, and you should be here. Quit hunkering down at home alone and come watch movies with us. You can even bring your blanket. Everything you need to know is here: www.frff.org.

If I seem a little fired up, it’s because I just came home from a volunteer meeting for the festival – you’ll find me at Frozen River watching movies and introducing a film or two. Hope I see you there!


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