Chisago County filmmakers wanted for Hwy. 61 Film Festival

East Central Minnesota filmmakers are revving their engines. The 2014 Highway 61 Film Festival, held Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5 in Pine City, has begun taking submissions.

The festival, run entirely by volunteers, is now in its fourth year. And it is open to filmmakers everywhere, though a special emphasis is being put on highlighting the work of local filmmakers. Previous festivals have featured films from Rush City, Sunrise and North Branch filmmakers.

Film FestivalSubmissions may include short (less than 40 minutes) and feature films. Categories include: drama, comedy, action/horror, documentary and animation. A special spot is reserved for student short films by students in grades K-12.

“Young people are making great short videos for school projects – and even just for fun,” said Sara Maki, one of the festival organizers. “Students can submit them for free, and we’ll try to get as many of these films as we can onto the big screen.”

Submissions will be reviewed by judges, and cash prizes will be awarded to the top film in each category: $100 for features, $50 for short films, including a $50 prize for the top Student Short film.

Each year the festival has been getting just a little bit bigger and a little bit better. Last year’s festival featured a visit from award-winning journalist Cathy Wurzer and films submitted from as far away as Poland and India.

Filmmakers can get entry forms online at, and submit their films by mailing them toe Pine Center for the Arts at PO Box 308, Pine City, MN 55063.

Early submission fees (by July 15) are $5 for short films and $10 per feature film. Late submission fees (by Aug. 15) are $10 for short films and $20 per feature film submission. All student short films are free to submit.

Maki said everyone who’s ever thought about a making a movie should pick up a camera and submit their film to the festival. She’s done it herself.

“I submitted a five-minute short, my first-ever foray into filmmaking, the second year of the fest,” she said.” It wasn’t great, but really made me appreciate how much hard work and artistry goes into even the simplest of films.

“It was a real rush to see it play on a big screen in front of an actual audience – don’t be afraid to release your wild and crazy creative side,” said Maki. “The arts truly are for everyone.”

For more information, visit, the Highway 61 Film Festival page on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. Questions? E-mail [email protected]

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