Duluth Int’l Film Festival This Week

A friend of mine said that when he went to the Duluth Film Festival last year he was blown away. His expectations were modest, but after the first film he couldn’t believe what he just saw. Then he took in the second, and the third. Ultimately he attended 11 films and participated in many of the dialogues with directors that can be part of a film festival experience.

Two weeks ago I met Richard Hansen, director of the event, and was sufficiently impressed with his vision and enthusiasm to make sure we had lunch together last week. I now understand why an international film festival would make its home in Duluth. It’s my hope that Hansen and associates are sufficiently successful to make this the next Sundance.

Ennyman: How did you come to Duluth and what prompted you to start the Duluth International Film Festival?

Richard Hansen: Riki McManus of the upper MN Film office and I had a mutual friend named Andrew Peterson who suggested that Riki and I meet. He knew Duluth was a great spot and that Sound Unseen could expand here. I meet with Riki about 3 years ago. We became instant friends and I fell in love with Duluth. There were so many supportive people and organizations, it became a no brainer to develop the festival franchise here.

Enny: I heard nothing but rave reviews over last year’s films. What is the process for deciding what films will be shown?

RH: Well, that’s very flattering, Ed … thanks for saying … We have an outstanding staff of programmers who literally scour the globe looking for films that will fit into our festival. Last year alone, we had representatives at Sundance, South by Southwest, Tribecca, Berlin, Rotterdam, Toronto, Seattle and numerous other festivals. These guys are professional programmers who book for other organizations and festivals, so everybody is always looking. As Adam Sekuler, one of our programmers likes to say ‘We’re professional lookers.’

We also like to choose filmmakers who we think have bright futures in the industry and are just all-around good people. This makes for much better visiting guests. We like making new filmmaker friends then asking them to come hang out with us in Duluth. We do have some thoughts on what we think will play well here in the Twin Ports area … sort of a Duluth style, so that plays into our selections as well.

To read the rest of this interview visit pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.

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