Selective Focus: Duluth-area Film Festivals in 2020

If you’re a fan of film or an aspiring filmmaker, here’s a quick list of festivals in the area you can get involved in by attending or submitting your work. Each has a different focus and flavor, but for those interested in the art of filmmaking, there are opportunities for involvement at many of levels beyond being an audience member.

The Duluth Playhouse Short Shorts Film Festival
Jan. 18, 2020 – 7 p.m., The Underground Theater
Open to films five minutes or less in length, this event draws from local talent as well as from around the world. An eclectic screening with cash prizes, awarded based on voting by the audience in attendance. This is the 15th year for the festival, put on by the Duluth Playhouse and the Underground Theater. Submissions deadline is today, Jan. 10, so hurry if you’ve got something you want to enter.
Submission info
Event page and more info

Duluth Homegrown Music Video Showcase
April 27, 2020 – Zeitgeist Zinema
This event is unique in that it brings local musicians and filmmakers together to collaborate. Bands submit songs to the Homegrown committee, and those songs are assigned randomly to filmmakers who have signed up to make a video. Finished videos are shown on the big screen at the Zinema theater to an enthusiastic audience during the Homegrown Music Festival. The filmmakers are free to do what they want for the video. Some work closely with the band, some do something completely independently, but they can’t alter the song. Submissions of songs from musicians are still being accepted, and registration for filmmakers opened a few weeks ago. Assignments of songs should be happening soon. This will be the 12th year of the festival, and it has produced some memorable collaborations.
Click here to sign up to make a video
Musicians interested in submitting a song can send an email to [email protected]

Duluth Superior Film Festival
June 3-7, 2020 – various locations and times
Spanning five days, this festival presents a wide variety of films and musical acts at multiple venues such as the Zeitgeist Arts Building, NorShor Theatre, and unique irregular venues all set along the shores of Lake Superior. More than just the screenings, there are also events, panels, discussions and parties.
Each year, festival organizers work with a different artist to create a new variation of the festival’s rabbit theme, for 2020, the artist is Josiah Van De Steeg. You can view the animated teaser at his website.
Festival website:
Submission are open now through March 31, 2020

Free Range Film Festival
June 26 & 27, 2020 – Junction of County Roads 1 and 4, one mile south of Wrenshall
Now in its 16th year, this fest probably has the most unlikely but iconic venue, the hayloft of a very old barn. There are auxiliary screens on the lower levels of the barn too. Free Range draws films from around the world as well as local talent. A highlight is multiple Q&A sessions with featured filmmakers, many who travel to attend this fest. Submissions close on April 15.
Submission link
Free Range Film Fest website

Catalyst Content Festival
Sept. 30 – Oct. 4, 2020 – Multiple venues and times
This one’s bigger than a regular film fest, and a little harder to describe. It’s an industry conference, and 2020 will be the second year it’s held in Duluth, but the 14th for the festival. It draws execs, talent and employees of independent media companies and content creators from around the country, and a main focus is screening pilots for TV shows that might eventually appear on Netflix, Amazon and other networks. Podcasts and other emerging media also play a part in the events. There are opportunities to attend these screenings but also to attend workshops, script readings, panel discussions, parties and more. Events also happen throughout the year and seem to be continually evolving, so the best way to keep up with the multiple offerings is to get on the email list and follow Catalyst Content social media.

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