Iowa Independent Film Festival is back in force in Clear Lake and Mason City | Local entertainment


In January, officials at the Iowa Independent Film Festival began receiving nominations for this year’s 14th edition.

From June to July, these officials began the selection process of 140 entries in total for 44 official selections that would be screened over two days at Clear Lake and Mason City.

Friday morning at 10 a.m., moviegoers across northern Iowa will be able to support independent cinema right in their own backyards.

The 14th Annual Iowa Independent Film Festival features more than 40 films that will screen in Clear Lake at the Lake Theater and in Mason City at the Stoltenberg Forum Room at the Beem Center at NIACC.

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Festival president Charlie Gandez said that while there is no unifying theme for the festival, the selections themselves feature a wide range of themes.

“There are a lot of very heartfelt movies. A lot of dramas. We definitely have comedies and sci-fi. But there are a lot of them that challenge the human condition in one way or another, that whether through the making of documentary or narrative films, ”said Gandez.

When deciding what to show at the festival, Gandez said officials give weight to whether or not a film is “Iowa Made.” Four films on the official selection page of the Iowa Independent Film Festival website carry this specific tag, including one by Mason City photographer Bruce McKee.

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McKee’s submission, “A Spring Sojourn via Canoe,” is a sequel to a previous winter movie that also starred his friend and collaborator Dale Mills who has been going down the Winnebago River once a month for 20 years now.

“Dale is a prolific writer and conservationist,” McKee said. “I don’t remember how many days we worked on it, but it was several trips on the Winnebago.”

McKee added that he hopes that when people see the work, they gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world around them. McKee also said he and Mills are planning a sequel based on the fall. “It kind of depends on the weather and what’s going on with the fall trees and their color.”

A spring canoe trip

Local filmmaker and photographer Bruce McKee said his entry for the Iowa Independent Film Festival is a follow-up to a previous article about his friend Dale Mills, who canoe the Winnebago River every month of every year.

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While Waterloo director Madison Chidester’s 11-minute play “We Made a Friend Today” doesn’t expressly deal with nature, she said she had a lot to do with the elements when she was preparing the movie. film which focuses on two siblings who make friends at the park who then asks for a favor.

“We filmed in the winter so it was snowy outside for parts and some days we could only film about 10 minutes.”

Chidester said her younger siblings helped her with the short narrative production, which is her first to be selected for the Iowa Independent Film Festival.

We made a friend today

A photo from “We Made a Friend Today” by Waterloo director Madison Chidester, which is showing at the Iowa Independent Film Festival this weekend.

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“It was a learning curve for them,” she said. “They learned what they didn’t like to do and how long they didn’t like to work. But they liked the end product and said it was worth it.”

According to Chidester, she submitted her film in March and when she finally heard, she was really excited because she had submitted to the festival before but had not participated.

The other two films tagged with “Iowa Made” are “Date Night,” about two 60-year-olds trying to get back into the dating scene, and “Wilt,” which is about dealing with grief after a breakup.

Movies that are not specific to Iowa that Gandez said people should be looking out for include the feature film “Landlocked” (about a man reunited with his father who is transgender) and the short “My Dinner with Werner”, which includes a murder plot.

In total, Gandez said he expects around ten filmmakers to show up to screen their films and discuss the work.

With all the screenings and all the talk, Gandez said he had one hope above all else for what audiences would take away from the Friday and Saturday experience.

“I would say the biggest thing we would like is for attendees to leave thinking about the value of visual arts in filmmaking. It’s an art form that we value as a festival. It’s more than just entertainment, it’s a visual art form. “

The Iowa Independent Film Festival begins at 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in Mason City in the Stoltenberg Forum Room at the Beem Center at NIACC. Screenings of Clear Lake begin at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Lake Theater. Tickets for the whole weekend are $ 30 or $ 20 for a day and are available through

Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at [email protected] or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @ TwoHeadedBoy98.


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