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Frozen River Film Festival


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If you’ve been to Winona before, you know that the arts scene is quite large. Not necessarily in size (the population is less than 30,000), but in wealth. Aside from seeing paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and others at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, or checking out exhibits at Winona Arts Center, the town is home to standout festivals like the Great River Shakespeare Festival and the upcoming Frozen River Film Festival (FRFF), which runs Jan. 23-27.

Photo courtesy of the Frozen River Film Festival

The FRFF, which started in 2006, brings documentary films, workshops, speakers, and musicians to the city for a nearly weeklong festival each winter. This year more than 40 films will be shown, covering topics such as environment, adrenaline, history, art, human rights, culture, food, adventure, as well as ones that are worldly and kid friendly. While the films are the backbone of the festival, there are numerous other activities to partake in as well.

What has become a large part of the festival is Fringe Friday, a daylong collection of activities that occur throughout the town. Head to Acoustic Café to watch the film Blue Marble Café and view the Riverway student photography exhibit, listen to Poet Paul Davidson speak at the Winona Public Library before seeing Last City in the East, or try your hand at crocheting at Yarnology.  

A number of musicians will be performing throughout the week, including world-renowned jazz clarinest Evan Christopher, Apollo Cobra, a three-piece band that uses analog synthesizers, drum machines, a bass and vocals, The Peoples Band, who performs everything from funk and soul to rock and reggae, and various local musicians that play in between film sets at Winona State University, where the majority of screenings take place.

Other events include a film and beer tasting at Ed’s (no name) Bar, a special set up of the Winona Farmers Market, rejuvenation stations that offer meditation, yoga, massage and tai chi, a children’s workshop, and speeches by Kent Gernander, who discusses Rockwell Kent’s historic passport case, and Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author exploring the connection between human rights and the environment. 

Tickets: $8 per individual (one film set, presentation or workshop), $35 (five-pack of tickets to film sets, presentations, and workshops) or $60 Big Muddy (unlimited access to films, presentations and workshops, priority seating). 

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