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“Making Connections” at the Oneota Film Festival

Over 85 films were shown at the 2018 Oneota Film Festival.

Over 85 films were shown at the 2018 Oneota Film Festival.

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Photos courtesy of,,,,,,, and

Over 85 films were shown at the 2018 Oneota Film Festival.

Cara Keith, Staff Writer

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Filmgoers made connections with directors and filmmakers at the Oneato Film Festival. This annual event was hosted at Luther from April 19-22 and  featured over 85 films from around the world.

The film festival’s theme “Making Connections” highlighted the connections attendees made with other filmgoers, filmmakers, and festival volunteers during the festival.

The films showed included documentaries, comedies, dramas, and even a musical. They also ranged in length from full-length feature films to short films.

Community members were required to buy tickets to access this event while Luther students attended for free. Tickets for opening night were $5, tickets for the rest of the nights were $10, and an all-access pass for the event cost $25.

Films were shown in Valders 206, Valders 362, Olin 102, and the Concert Recital Hall in the Center for Faith and Life. Moviegoers attended films of interest, moving between each of the viewing locations as they saw fit. Friday’s theme was “Homegrown Connections” and featured films with local and regional roots. Saturday’s theme was “Connecting Culture and Community” and on Sunday the theme was “Connecting with Our World.”

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Over 85 films were shown at the 2018 Oneota Film Festival.

Many directors and filmmakers attended the film festival and held Q&A sessions after their films. This gave attendance members the chance to connect directly with the creators.

Local community members also submitted movies that were shown in the festival.  Associate Professor of Communication Studies Thomas C. Johnson submitted a short film he directed entitled “Marieke.”

“This will be the third time that I’ve had a film screen at the Oneota Film Festival,” Johnson said. “‘Marieke’ is a short subject documentary film about a woman named Marieke Penterland who immigrated from the Netherlands in the 1920s and has since built a Gouda cheese-making empire at her state-of-the-art facility in Wisconsin.”

The film festival also screened “To This Day: Remembering Nordic Choir’s First International Tour,” which featured Nordic Choir’s May 1967 tour to Norway, West Germany, and East Germany. This film was created by Aidan Spencer (‘18) and Professor of History Jacqueline Wilkie as a three-year student and faculty collaborative project, which debuted in the fall of 2017.

In addition, the festival screened “Night Call,” winner of Best of Fest student narrative award and “Heroin(e),” a 2018 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary (Short Subject).

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Another film shown at the 2018 Oneota Film Festival

Not only were community members involved in the creation and submission of films, but Luther students and community members also worked to put on the film festival successfully. Multimedia Strategic Fellow Jack Ross (‘17) generated student involvment in the execution of the festival.

“We have student workers that work for basically the entire festival,” Ross said. “They’re there for support and for starting and stopping the films, even just the mundane aspects of showing the films. They’re on call all weekend though, in case tech issues come up. We basically just provide general tech support for the festival all weekend.”

Community members make up the Oneota Film Festival board and other community members volunteer to run the festival.

Executive Director of the Oneota Film Festival Christy Ebert Vrtis hopes the festival affects Luther students.

“Every year, we’re hoping that we have more of an effect on Luther students,” Ebert Vrtis said. “It’s hard to get the word out since Luther students have so many opportunities and so many things to do. But this film is free for all students, so we’re hoping that they’re at least able to come to one film. We provide the opportunity for students to see a wider variety of films that they maybe wouldn’t choose themselves.”

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