The 7th annual Speechless Film Festival took place this past weekend at Verizon Center in Mankato.
The festival, hosted by Bethany Lutheran College, showcases films from all over the world.
Making a film is a lot of work. So, too, is putting on a film festival. It takes sponsors, volunteers, grant money and a lot of buy-in from everyone involved.
As Speechless turns seven years old, the vision has become more consistent and pulling off the event gets easier every year. “The main advantage of coming back to the Civic Center year after year, is that so much of it has become a formula for success,” said Kurt Paulsen, festival director. “They’ve been nothing but good to us and its been a good working relationship.”
This year, the festival received over 350 entries and screened roughly 75 of those films during the two-day festival.
According to a 2013 study by Stephan Follows, there were roughly 3,000 film festivals taking place worldwide. Of those 3,000 festivals studied, only 3% made it to year seven. Speechless Film Festival is headed toward unchartered territory when it comes to life expectancy of the event.
One of the major challenges of the festival is building make-shift theaters and coordinating all the tech requirements. Kurt Shrader, Technology and Venue Support for the festival, says you must have a plan A and a plan B to succeed. “Every year at the festival there is a big rush, even if you are planning ahead, something will go wrong, can you pivot from one thing to another,” he said. “To have a seamless theater going experience for the people, means you have to have alternatives in place.”
While film festivals come and go, Speechless is aging well due to the hard work and dedication of many. With a solid venue and consistent brand, this festival has proven to be worth the time.