What started a decade ago as a high school movie-making contest in northeast Iowa has evolved into a full-fledged film festival. Today is the opening day of the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.
Fest director Michael Coty says the rundown includes 50 documentaries and features, along with 50 short films that will be screened in Dubuque through Sunday. “We work with a web portal called Without A Box that’s known to film festivals and to filmmakers,” Coty says. “It’s a way for both to get connected. We get to advertise our festival and filmmakers know to look for festivals online, then they select which festivals they’re going to submit to.”
More than 200 entrees were screened by 50 local reviewers and the list was narrowed to the top five in each category. An outside jury of directors, producers and other industry professionals will chose the winners in sci-fi, comedy, drama and documentary. It’s truly an “international” festival, as Coty says films this year come from the across the U-S, plus South Africa, France, Spain, Japan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, China and Iran. “We have some really cool comedies this year, people always like that and some really fun filmmakers are coming in,” Coty says. “Also, we have a selection of films that are associated with Iowa, whether they were filmed here or they have people from Iowa or somehow involved in the making of films.”
This summer marks the 25th anniversary release of “Field of Dreams,” which was shot mostly in Dyersville, but also in Dubuque and Galena, Illinois. A special showing of the baseball classic is on the festival schedule, hosted by the executive producer, Brian Frankish.
Coty says films are being shown now through Sunday afternoon at 18 venues around Dubuque. “We use local restaurants, pubs, hotels,” Coty says, “anyplace that we can put up a screen and a projector and have a good sound system and we’ll show a film there.” The honorary chair for this year’s festival is actress Abigail Breslin, best known for the film “Little Miss Sunshine” and more recently “Ender’s Game” and “August, Osage County.”