Frozen River Film Festival: Noah’s picks

Noah Mruz, film reviewer

It’s that time of year once again folks! Another year of the Frozen River Film Festival (FRFF) in Winona! Even though the pandemic is making many things hard to do, the FRFF is here right on schedule. This year the festival has moved to an online format and is, as always, FREE for students, so there was no excuse not to attend this year. You might say, “Oh geez, but it is right before Valentine’s Day, I have to prepare for that!” and I would respond with “Wow, cool flex that you’re in a relationship, but that is still no excuse!” Due to the online format of the festival, you can watch films up to a week after they premiere! We all lead busy lives though, so maybe you don’t have time for all of the films at the festival, so I will tell you about some films I think you should check out.

First up is the short documentary film “One Week on Campus.” This film was directed and narrated by Winona State students on campus. The lens is on students as they deal with the pandemic, politics and protests of 2020. The film takes place–you guessed it–in one week throughout Winona. For full disclosure, I did help with this film, so there might be some bias there. However, I was only a small piece of the puzzle that my wonderful filmmaker friends put together to showcase the highs and lows of a week in the pandemic and the politically tense era we live in. I would highly recommend this short documentary to any student.

Next are the local filmmaker sets. There are a variety of films here that are fairly short and made by and feature folks in our community. “Connectivity: Networking for Everyone” talks about the importance of networking in your everyday life, tells stories of people on campus and how they can find success from just a common interaction with someone that opens doors for their futures. “Solar Eclipse” follows two Dancescape directors as they showcase their artistic dance and features some creative and fun camera work. “What Floats your Boat,” tells the story of local boat craftsmen and their creative job with some unique visuals and an entertaining story. All of these films were made by people in our community, and it is so cool to see the work local people are making. These films are fairly short and are an entertaining way to learn a more about the community around you from the comfort of your home.

Finally, I have to talk about the documentary “The Donut King.” This film follows the story of Ted Ngoy as he pursues the American Dream. Ngoy comes from Cambodia with very little and starts to build a donut empire while giving fellow Cambodians the same opportunity to thrive in the U.S. The film is an entertaining yet heartfelt story with spiffy visuals, showcasing the roller coaster that is Ngoy’s rise and fall as the donut king.c

Although these were some of my top picks from this year’s Frozen River Film Festival, they are, by far, not all of the gems from it. There are a few films I still haven’t been able to watch due to the pure abundance of films or, since at the time of my writing this, they have not premiered at the festival. It may be right after Valentine’s Day, but these documentaries will still be available for all of you to watch and enjoy at home, and I hope you cuddle up with your Valentine and dive into some of these wonderful films.