A Day Away: global atmosphere at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

That’s where the cool kids go.

So mark your calendar from April 20 to 24 and see you at the 2022 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.

The historic Five Flags Theater is the anchor site for the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, which runs April 20-24, 2022. (JDIFF)

It’s so cool that in years past, the Hollywood who’s who in the audience has included actors Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Zombieland”), Maggie Grace (“Fear the Walking Dead,” “Taken “), Trevor Morgan (“The Sixth Sense”, “The Patriot”); game show producer and host Robert Belushi; Emme model; director Mary Lou Belli (“Bull,” “NCIS: New Orleans”); and producer Randy Tat (“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”).

Founded in 2012, it’s 10 years of cool contributions to MovieMaker magazine, declaring it one of the “World’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals” and one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth Paying For”. registration “. It is also among the top 100 rated festivals on FilmFreeway.comthe leading film festival submission website.

If you are going to

What: Julien Dubuque Independent Film Festival 2022

When: April 20 to 24

Or: Various Dubuque venues, with the main screen at the Five Flags Theater, 405 Main St.

Festival headquarters: Lobby of the Julien Dubuque Hotel, 200 Main St.

Tickets: Individual event tickets $10-$12; day pass, $60; three-day pass, $150; five-day pass, $200; half price for students; julienfilmfest.com/tickets

Details: julienfilmfest.com/

Festival executive director Susan Gorrell attributes the “cool” to a few factors, based on what she’s heard from filmmakers over the years.

“First, the communication and all that we have planned not only for the filmmakers, but also for the participants,” she said.

“And then I think of the city itself. Dubuque is right on the Mississippi. This is a beautiful city. The people are wonderful. They’re very accepting, it’s a very artistic community, so they’re very open and welcoming. And people feel it when they come here. And we offer a lot of things.

“In addition to the film festival, we offer many evenings, panels, unique screenings,” she noted. “All of that combined adds up to a very cool, and very revered festival as well, so we’re really lucky there too.”


Out of nearly 1,000 registrations, the 120 films selected for the festival will be screened twice. Venues range from the Five Flags Theater, Hotel Julien Dubuque, and Phoenix Theaters at the Kennedy Mall to the Dubuque Museum of Art, the Holiday Inn, the National Museum and Aquarium by the Mississippi River, and several other more sites. small. Gorrell expects between 90 and 100 filmmakers to attend and participate in the festival sessions.

It’s also not uncommon to see themes emerge among festival submissions, and this year the pandemic shutdown has been a major influence.

“There was a lot to do with COVID,” Gorrell noted. “A lot with being locked up. There’s always a lot of drama. We get a lot of drama films about trafficking or sexual abuse or that sort of thing. The one thing we usually have less of is the comedy. However, I saw more comedy this year, which was interesting.

“When we program, when I watch the films and the scores… I don’t want all films to be depressing or all films to be about COVID. I need to mix it all up, so we always have a good mix of comedy, drama, documentary or always we like to scare – we’ve got a little scarier this year – so you try to mix it up. And the family – we try to have at least something for the family.

Student filmmakers also take center stage at the festival, with documentaries, features, shorts, animations, thrillers, musicals, and LGTBQ+ offerings. See details on julienfilmfest.com/film-guide.

International atmosphere

In a state that loves movies and cinema, it’s the international flair that sets this five-day event apart from other Iowa film festivals.

“We get movies from all over the world,” Gorrell said.

This year’s lineup includes films from Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the States United, coast to coast. The 2021 festival even had a submission from the Faroe Islands.

International filmmakers were unable to attend last year’s festival, due to COVID travel restrictions, but Gorrell expects to see international attendance numbers increase this year, similar to the years before the festival’s break. in 2020.

Beyond the screens

“We’re not just a platform to show movies,” she explained. “We have a lot of world premieres, American premieres, but we are also a platform for companies. Filmmakers come here and they mingle and network. We’ve had filmmakers here who have come to this festival and collaborated on a feature film project or been hired by someone else. Here we have film critics, distributors.

“So it’s not just great indie entertainment, like it is in movies. It’s also a networking business model for those who want to learn. We have panels and Q&As, so it all adds to our structure,” she said.

Dubuque is 72.6 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids via Highway 151 and 84.5 miles northeast of Iowa City via Highways 1 and 151. Guests can choose individual screenings for 10 $ to $12 or choose one-day passes for $60 or three-day passes. at $150 or five-day passes at $200 and half price for all students. If you’re looking to spend the night on the town, book early for a hotel, motel, B&B, and Airbnb accommodation.

Filmmakers are also invited to stay in private residences.

“We’re getting at least 25 to 35, maybe more, staying home,” Gorrell said. “We have great people in our community opening their homes to filmmakers. It works really well.

In addition to all the various festival events, Dubuque has other attractions just waiting to be discovered and rediscovered.

“Things that end up being very popular at the festival, which are quite funny and naturally become well-known, it’s like Paul’s Tavern, because it has stuffed animals above the wall. He’s not a festival sponsor — it just seems like a gathering place,” Gorrell said.

The Fenelon Place Elevator, also known as the Fourth Street Elevator, is a must-see. Billed as “the shortest and steepest railroad in the world,” it climbs the cliff for magnificent panoramic views of historic downtown, the Mississippi River, and Wisconsin and Illinois on the opposite bank. The elevator operates 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, April 1 through November 30, and fares are $4 return for adults, half price for children ages 5-12, payable in species only at the top. Children 4 and under travel free. For more details, visit fenelonplaceelevator.com.

Festival-goers also love to see the murals, Gorrell noted, as well as the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium along the waterfront — a complex full of exhibits and hands-on attractions for all ages, historic buildings and river boats at an aquarium giving a glimpse of sea life along the river. Of particular note is the stunning display of world-class wildlife photography by Thomas D. Mangelsen on the second floor. For more details about the museum, go to rivermuseum.com.

Gorrell also encourages filmmakers and attendees to explore businesses and organizations that support the festival through sponsorships and donations. They are listed on the festival website, julienfilmfest.com.

Roots of the festival

The festival has grown by leaps and bounds since 2012, and word of mouth keeps pouring in from the filmmakers and their submissions. It now takes more than $200,000 to run the festival, with those costs mostly offset by sponsorships and donations, Gorrell noted. Ticket prices and submission fees, which range between $40 and $75, are kept low to make events affordable.

Gorrell, 55, of Dubuque, knows firsthand the power of word-of-mouth recommendations. A producer, she came to the festival the first year, winning Best Iowa Documentary honors with “A Million Spokes,” on RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride through Iowa.

She came back as a volunteer, then was hired part-time and has now served as general manager for eight years, before moving to Dubuque from Florida. She’s no stranger to Iowa, however, with family in the Donnellson area in the southeast corner near Fort Madison.

She, her husband and her sons are related to the film industry. Her husband does pyrotechnics and special effects, including explosions, wind and rain for films such as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Transformers’, and won a Primetime Emmy in 2008 for the miniseries John Adams. He can live anywhere, but he also has a place in Georgia because he’s been working on a lot of movies there, Gorrell said. While their eldest son also does special effects, their younger son works with the location side of films and the two have recently completed projects in New Orleans.

When she was hired to run the festival, Gorrell said her “only goal was to grow the festival internationally so that people come from all over the world, films come from all over the world and it’s not just a great product. entertainment, but would also create a meeting place for filmmakers to network and mingle and for the community to be part of it all – and just people to come.

She achieved this goal.

“People come from all over the world, not only as filmmakers but also as participants, and they leave Dubuque as friends.”

Comments: (319) 368-8508; [email protected]

Evan Wiliams stars as Meriwether Lewis in the Best Feature Nominee “Mysterious Circumstance, The Death of Meriwether Lewis,” screened April 22-24 at the 2022 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Dubuque. Williams, who has appeared in TV series ‘Westworld’, ‘Versailles’, ‘Fuller House’ and others, is expected to attend the festival. (JDIFF)

Described as ‘Glory’ meets ‘Dances with Wolves’, nominated for Best Feature ‘Freedom’s Path’ depicts the friendship between a soldier and a runaway slave, centered on and around the Underground Railroad. The drama will screen April 22 and 24 at the 2022 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Dubuque. (JDIFF)

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