Welcome to the Highway 61 Film Festival!

Making a film takes some heavy lifting.

It’s one thing to think of a great idea for a movie. It’s another to form that idea into a story, then to gather the people and equipment to film it, then to edit it together, then to add just the right music and sound … and then finally, finally, to put it in front of an audience and hope they love it.

It takes passion, it takes care and craft – and it takes the raw determination to overcome every obstacle and get it done.

It’s because of the passion and determination of all the filmmakers in the festival that we get to be here.  Filmmakers, thank you.

One of those filmmakers is kicking off the festival with a movie that echoes our shared love for Highway 61. Cathy Wurzer is an Emmy award-winning journalist from radio and television, and we’re excited that she’s bringing her documentary  “Tales of the Road: Highway 61” to Pine City on Friday night.

Speaking of Highway 61, it’s great to see the counties of Carlton, Pine and Chisago coming together to promote this historic route through Minnesota as a tourist destination – and we’re delighted to help to kick off their “Discover the FUN on Old Highway 61” initiative on Friday.

It is a great honor and privilege  to have Al Milgrom supporting the Highway 61 Film Festival once again in 2013. A Pine City native and founding member of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, Al has played a huge role in making the Twin Cities a cultural center in the Midwest. He’s a remarkable man, and one of the inspirations for this film festival. Al presented an evening of films last year, and has generously donated his time again this year to offer a special selection of films for our audience.

A highlight of the year for us came this past spring when Mora’s non-profit Paradise Theatre invited us to take part in their very first film festival. The Paradise is a great theater, a tremendous community asset, and we’re looking forward to many more collaborations to come.

To all our guests: thanks for coming! Have fun, and feel free to come and go throughout the festival – but do keep coming back. There’s sure to be something special happening when the next show  starts.

And don’t forget to stroll down the block north after the movies are done at Pine Technical College and before the late night shows begin out at Danny C’s BeachRocks. The artists involved in “Photos on Buildings” will be making murals of light along the back of Pine Plaza. It’s an extraordinary project in its own right – another part of the art tradition that makes Pine City such a remarkable place.

Speaking of that art tradition, a big thank you goes out to the Pine Center for the Arts. It’s because of this amazing organization in Pine City that this festival exists at all. Along with the Pine City Arts Council and the Heritage Players and generous contributions over the years by the East Central Regional Arts Council, the Pine Center for the Arts is building this community into an arts destination.

None of this would have happened without the generosity of our hosts Pine Technical College and Danny C’s BeachRocks or without the many wonderful people – too many to name – who volunteered, who organized, who gathered and judged the submitted films, who purchased ads and donated time and material. Thank you to you all!

This is our third year of the Highway 61 Film Festival, and we’re thrilled that the word has been spreading about what’s happening here in Pine City.

This year, we’re featuring films coming in from all corners of the United States. From the west, we have movies from Seattle, San Francisco, West Hollywood and South Dakota. From the south, movies have come in from Texas and Florida. From the east, filmmakers from New York, Chicago and Wisconsin have submitted films for competition.

And the festival competition has even expanded beyond our country’s borders. We are proud to welcome the films of Tarun Jain of India and Marianna Mankowska of Poland to our Pine City festival.

Films have come from the Twin Cities area: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Oakdale and Plymouth.

And of course, we have a special respect and appreciation for our local filmmakers – from Moose Lake and Rush City, Lindstrom and North Branch, and our own Pine City – who have contributed films to the festival. We’re all in this together, trying to make great things happen in our communities.

And words can’t express how glad we are that you’ve come to be part of it.

The Highway 61 Film Festival Committee: Sara Maki, Jimmy Keebs, Nathan Johnson, Stan Grubbs, Mike Gainor, Heidi Briski-Gainor, James Tuckner and Kris Magnuson.