The Winonan

Winona welcomes Frozen River Film Festival

Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

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Every year, Winona puts on its hosting hat for a variety of filmmakers and creatives, who gather in our river city to present independent documentaries of all shapes and sizes.

The topics of these documentaries range from social issues, sports, music, outdoors, foreign environments, etc. This is the Frozen River Film Festival and it occurred Feb. 7-11 throughout town and Winona State University’s campus in a remarkable fusion of culture and ideas.

The Festival Director, Sara Ezenauer, shared a brilliant explanation of what films are on selection every year at this festival.

“The films our Screening Committee helps us choose each year are uplifting, make you think and make you want to go out and make a difference in the world all at the same time. If you’re a student, you get to see these films free thanks to a donation made by the Winona State Student Senate,” Ezenauer said. “We are able to bring in world-class filmmakers into Winona every year, which really adds to the experience. This is the only all documentary film festival in the state and the documentaries we show are not the boring educational ones you had to watch in high school.”

One of the documentaries was a musical journey through Bourbon Street, New Orleans, in “Do U Want It?”. The film follows the story and background of a band, Papa Grows Funk, that permeates legend and myth of the bars and stages that sprawl one of the most unique places in America. As you can likely guess from the band name, their cohesive forte is very much funk, yet surprisingly, many of the band members originate from the scattered genres of jazz, soul, R&B and rock.  The film explores the passion and toil of musicians and artists that help serve the New Orleans culture. Paul Johnson, film studies professor, high recommends “Do U Want It?”

“Do U Want It?’ is an engaging, sobering and ultimately uplifting story of what it takes to make the big time—or not make the big time-in today’s music world,” Johnson said. “But making the leap from regional sensation to international fame is difficult, as the film shows. But with some clever animation and the band’s stellar music at the fore, ‘Do U Want It?’ reminds us all just how much passion and craft it takes to make a career in music.”

Just one of many films that received its big moment of screen time this past weekend, “Do U Want It?” is only a taste of what the Frozen River Film Festival has to offer every year. Documentary films tell truths other films are sometimes unable to capture. If interested in discovering more truths about the world we live in, you might have missed your chance this winter, but this time next year you will have another chance to venture into a variety of exciting independent documentaries at the annual Frozen River Film Festival. Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen. One blink of a year away, and they will be back.

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Winona welcomes Frozen River Film Festival