Award winners, official selections, finalists and semi-finalists!

With all the wonderful films submitted this year to the Highway 61 Film Festival, narrowing down the choices into the award winners and official selections was a very challenging job for our all-volunteer crew of prescreeners, judges and festival programmers.

It also didn’t seem right to celebrate only the films that would be featured during the limited time we have to schedule films at our 2016 festival, because there would be many, many more films we would include if we did have time available.  Excellent creative work deserves to be recognized.

With that in mind, we are honoring not only the award winners and official selections, but finalists and semi-finalists in each category – films which made a strong impression on our judges, but which we were unable to screen at the festival.

To see the festival schedule for 2016, click here.

Thank you for your contributions, and congratulations to all!



1st Place • Scratch • Director: Maninder Chana  – Canada

2nd Place • DAYLIGHT’S END  • Director: Wiliam Kaufman – United States


Peelers  • Submitted by Sevé Schelenz  • Finalist

Gray  • Submitted by Michael Santana  • Semi-Finalist

The Dark Tapes  • Submitted by Michael McQuown  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • Portent  • Director: Justin Carter  – United Kingdom

2nd Place • HADA  • Director: Tony Morales – Spain


Ghostwriter  • Director: Mykee Steen  • Official Selection

Mayday  • Director: Sébastien Vanicek  • Official Selection

The Art of Human Salvage  • Director: Dempsey Tillman  • Official Selection


Snatched Away  • Submitted by Rafael Sierra  • Finalist

Balloon  • Submitted by Vis Vitalis  • Semi-Finalist

Banana Bike Bloodbath  • Submitted by Luke Meneok  • Semi-Finalist

Candy Skin  • Submitted by Kyle Martellacci  • Semi-Finalist

Frame of Mine  • Submitted by Matthew Simonis  • Semi-Finalist

Kill Them All, Big and Small • Submitted by John Gigrich  • Semi-Finalist

Recalibrate  • Submitted by John Gigrich  • Semi-Finalist

TEAM  • Submitted by Pete Tomkies  • Semi-Finalist



1st Place • PERCIPIENT  • Director: Keith Mullin – United States

2nd Place • THE OLD MAN AND THE PEARS   • Director: Jing Sun – United States


Brotherhood  • Director: Christian Washington  • Official Selection

Departure  • Director: Shiyuan Guo  • Official Selection

Fault Lines • Director: Mandy Wong  • Official Selection

Monster  • Director: Montana Hall  • Official Selection

Quackerz  • Director: Viktor Lakisov  • Official Selection

Spotlight  • Director: Otalia Causse  • Official Selection

The Hindu Thread  • Director: Jennifer Higgins  • Official Selection

The Odd Funeral  • Director: Felix Swahn  • Official Selection

Totem  • Director: Ariel Jew  • Official Selection


Bubble Bubble Meows and the Things That Happen in Movies Like This  • Submitted by Matt Orefice  • Finalist

Agrinoui  • Submitted by Alexis Chaviaras  • Semi-Finalist

another day in paradise  • Submitted by bellopropello  • Semi-Finalist

employee of the day  • Submitted by Christoph J Kellner  • Semi-Finalist

Infestation  • Submitted by Cable Hardin  • Semi-Finalist

Last Judgment  • Submitted by Junyi Xiao  • Semi-Finalist

Xsense Alice  • Submitted by Janetta Abbenbroek  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • BUSES  • Directors: Josh Clarke and Jack Kelly – United Kingdom

2nd Place • DIRTY BEAUTIFUL  • Director: Tim Bartell – United States


DUMBBELLS  • Submitted by Hoyt Richards  • Finalist

Did You Hear Jake And Courtney Broke Up?  • Submitted by Michael Leroux  • Semi-Finalist

Where Are You, Bobby Browning?  • Submitted by Marc Hutchins  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • L.I.P.S.  • Director: Mike Cheslik – United States

2nd Place • BUBBLE BATH  • Director: Kevin Saxby  – Canada


A Town Called Theocracy  • Director: Jehad Al-Khateeb  • Official Selection

Call For A Good Time  • Director: Linnea Ritland  • Official Selection

Dirty Work  • Director: Dániel Füzes  • Official Selection

Once Upon a Dream  • Director: Anthony Nion  • Official Selection


De Ontmoeting (The Encouter)  • Submitted by milou dieteren  • Semi-Finalist

Endo  • Submitted by Tom Radovich  • Semi-Finalist

Finding Wheel Love  • Submitted by Sonic Barometer  • Semi-Finalist

Kidnapping  • Submitted by Jay Pulk  • Semi-Finalist

Sex Life  • Submitted by Cole Meyer  • Semi-Finalist

The Bigfoot Hunters  • Submitted by matt hausmann  • Semi-Finalist

The Couch  • Submitted by Doug Phillips  • Semi-Finalist

The Revenge  • Submitted by Yulia Travnikova  • Semi-Finalist

Think Twice  • Submitted by Eliaz Rodriguez  • Semi-Finalist

Venice  • Submitted by Venetia Taylor  • Semi-Finalist

Virgin Susie And The Holy Sisters From Petah-Tikva  • Submitted by Asaf Yecheskel  • Semi-Finalist

When Damon Met Angie…  • Submitted by Hugo Matz  • Semi-Finalist

Whyne: Because the “Why” Generation is Whining  • Submitted by Nathan Oelker  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • GYPSY: ROCK & ROLL NOMADS  • Director: Sean Skinner – United States

2nd Place • ONE LONG JOURNEY  • Director: Andy Lawrence – United Kingdom


1st Place • A LIFE WELL PLAYED  • Director: Rene Erickson – United States

2nd Place • OVER THE BRIDGE  • Director: Maria Lavelle – United States


The Band for Dummies  • Submitted by Vittorio Antonacci  • Finalist

Harlan County: A Road to Change  • Submitted by Kim Childers  • Semi-Finalist

Song in a Day  • Submitted by Kris Jones  • Semi-Finalist

TRANSition  • Submitted by Robert Cunningham  • Semi-Finalist

TICK TOCK CLOCK   • Submitted by GAIL REABEN  • Semi-Finalist

The First Time  • Submitted by Ashley Boyle  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • CAPSULE  • Director: Andrew Martin • Producer: Paul D. Forrest • Company: Ecaveo Capital Partners  – United Kingdom

2nd Place • SCARECROW  • Director: Mark A. France – United States


ESCAPES  • Submitted by mercedes gaspar  • Finalist

Redux  • Submitted by Bret Jones  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • THE EXAMPLE  • Director: Wyatt Cagle  – United States

2nd Place • BLIND LIGHT  • Director: An Pham – United States


Dead Sharks  • Director: Nic Barker  • Official Selection

Dorothy and the Odds  • Director: Rudy Capirio  • Official Selection

Letter to My Son  • Director: Maurice Hicks  • Official Selection

Speed Dating  • Director: Heather Nicole  • Official Selection

Split Costs  • Director: Jeffrey Blake Palmer  • Official Selection

The Jason Phillips Show  • Director: Kye Loren  • Official Selection

With the Wind  • Director: Farhad Pakdel  • Official Selection


Funkenflug – Chronicles of a Catastrophe  • Submitted by Stephanie Kiewel  • Finalist

The Forgotten Few  • Submitted by Ryan Enever  • Finalist

Aitxitxe  • Submitted by Markel Goikoetxea  • Semi-Finalist

Burgatory  • Submitted by Stephen Hutchins  • Semi-Finalist

Captivity  • Submitted by Yulia Travnikova  • Semi-Finalist

Headlong  • Submitted by Peter Simon  • Semi-Finalist

The Selection  • Submitted by Patrick Hogue  • Semi-Finalist

Two Ladies  • Submitted by Steffi Tupe  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • OPTICS FOR LOVE  • Directors: Martin Blanco, Clayton Stansberry – United States

2nd Place • VOICES FROM KAW THOO LEI  • Director: Antonio Aguilar – United States


Boots  • Director: Keith Hopkins  • Official Selection

Free Associates  • Director: John Akre  • Official Selection

Golden Light  • Directors: Justin Berrisford, Cole Meyer  • Official Selection

Help Desk  • Directors: Sean Skinner, Edward Linder  • Official Selection

I Want You Inside Me  • Director: Alice Shindelar  • Official Selection

Indian Summer  • Directors: Diana Fraser, Sam Dunnewold  • Official Selection

Peep Story  • Directors: Jay and Amy Albrecht  • Official Selection

Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco  • Director: Leya Hale  • Official Selection

Roshambo  • Director: Sean A. Skinner  • Official Selection

Tell Me What You See  • Director: Callie Jones  • Official Selection

Voices From Kaw Thoo Lei  • Director: Martha Gorzycki  • Official Selection

Z.E.T.A. Force  • Director: Ray Flint III  • Official Selection


VORE KING  • Submitted by Dan Schneidkraut  • Finalist

Endless  • Submitted by Angely Guevara  • Semi-Finalist

I Voted  • Submitted by Chris Parr  • Semi-Finalist

Last Supper  • Submitted by Ryan Gilmer  • Semi-Finalis

Mister Massive and the Super Squad  • Submitted by David Mair  • Semi-Finalist

Pink  • Submitted by Jack Turzillo  • Semi-Finalist

The Crystallomancer  • Submitted by Forrest Anderson Mares  • Semi-Finalist

The Man Crush  • Submitted by Richard Louprasong  • Semi-Finalist


1st Place • JOURNEY  • Director: Radheya Jegatheva – Australia

2nd Place • DEAR  • Director: Laura Malatos – United States


A Sadness by Any Other Name  • Directors: Reem Al-Shihabi, Deema Al Therman, Layal Mooti  • Official Selection

Don’t Look Under Your Bed  • Director: Radheya Jegatheva  • Official Selection

Finis  • Director: Lana Bregar  • Official Selection

Hardboiled Egg  • Director: Shira Moolten  • Official Selection

Inside of Us  • Director: Miranda Pla  • Official Selection

Last Train  • Director: Matthew Knarr  • Official Selection

Midnight Snack  • Director: Cole Johnson  • Official Selection

Rocks  • Directors: Neema Sadeghi, Keyan Kazemian  • Official Selection

Summer Citrus  • Director: Nico Fulton Lavachek  • Official Selection

The Door to the Sun  • Director: Julie Annlie  • Official Selection

The Tyger  • Director: Radheya Jegathev  • Official Selection


Georgian Dance  • Submitted by Salome Tkebuchava  • Finalist

4242  • Submitted by Sara Eustaquio  • Semi-Finalist

Black and White and Grey  • Submitted by Marieke de Koker  • Semi-Finalist

Ellie  • Submitted by Morgana McKenzie  • Semi-Finalist

Empty Boxes  • Submitted by Laura Malatos  • Semi-Finalist

Enter the Depth  • Submitted by Ciara Boniface  • Semi-Finalist

Escape  • Submitted by Mehrdad Parvani  • Semi-Finalist

Facade  • Submitted by Carol Nguyen  • Semi-Finalist

It’s All in the Cosmos  • Submitted by Ciara Boniface  • Semi-Finalist

Meant For More  • Submitted by Harrison Allen  • Semi-Finalist

Merry Krampus  • Submitted by Cole Johnson  • Semi-Finalist

Naga Pixie  • Submitted by Anthony Hobbs  • Semi-Finalist

Run  • Submitted by Neema Sadeghi  • Semi-Finalist

Rye Bread  • Submitted by Charlotte Cooper  • Semi-Finalist

Sleep  • Submitted by Mary Aupperle  • Semi-Finalist

…The Name of Action  • Submitted by Salome Tkebuchava  • Semi-Finalist

The Yellow Block  • Submitted by Harrison Allen  • Semi-Finalist

Written in Ink  • Submitted by Thomas George  • Semi-Finalist


We are proud to present the schedule of films for the 2016 Highway 61 Film Festival! Thank you to all who submitted! More info to come.

Thursday, October 6 at 7 p.m. • Pine Center for the Arts
Inside of Us
Director: Miranda Pla • Student Short • Los Angeles • 2 min
A girl is chased through worlds by the creature that festers inside of us all.
The Tyger
Director: Radheya Jegathev • Student Short • Australia • 3 min
An animated depiction of the poem, “The Tyger” by William Blake.
Don’t Look Under Your Bed
Director: Radheya Jegatheva • Student Short • Australia • 4 min
Moving from one apartment to another has consequences when things go bump in the night.
Director: Mykee Steen • Action/Horror Short • Portland • 9 min
When would-be writer Jonas accidentally invokes the spirit of his great-grandmother, he opens a door to another realm.
Director: Shiyuan Guo • Animation • Canada •  2 min
Every day, a girl leaves for a a different place, though she is only living in her mind.
Dorothy and the Odds
Director: Rudy Capirio • Drama Short • United Kingdom • 6 min
When two worlds collide in a cloister, it might take something drastic to set things right.
A Town Called Theocracy
Director: Jehad Al-Khateeb • Comedy Short • New Mexico • 15 min
After new laws force a theater owner to show imaginary films, a mysterious visitor offers him an intriguing solution.
A Sadness by Any Other Name
Directors: Reem Al-Shihabi, Deema Al Therman, Layal Mooti • Student Short • United Arab Emirates • 2 min
A young woman reflects on the things that make her who she is, the contradictions that make her whole.
Last Train 
Director: Matthew Knarr • Student Short • Canada • 4 min
A documentary exploring the quiet, empty world of the last subway train of the night, and the stories of the people riding it.
Hardboiled Egg 
Director: Shira Moolten • Student Short • Philadelphia • 2 min
An exploration through language and images of human frailty and the wonder of existence.
The Door to the Sun
Director: Julie Annlie • Student Short • Denmark • 10 min
A boy begins dreaming of a girl, dreams that become more and more his reality.
Directors: Neema Sadeghi, Keyan Kazemian • Student Short • USA • 5 min
A teenage boy comes to a difficult place in his life, and realizes he needs to face the truth regarding his lack of emotion.
Speed Dating
Director: Heather Nicole • Drama Short • Austria • 2 min
When it comes to love, timing is everything.
Director: Lana Bregar • Student Short • Slovenia • 2 min
The truth about the end of things lies in all the objects we  see and experience every day.
Once Upon a Dream
Director: Anthony Nion • Comedy Short • Belgium • 13 min
When Valentin meets Ludivine, he is convinced she’s the girl he has been dreaming of for weeks – but Ludivine is not so sure.
With the Wind
Director: Farhad Pakdel • Drama Short • Canada • 13 min
A Qashqai family lives in a village in Fars province of Iran. Mitra is expecting her nomad fiancé to come back from the winter pasture. Knowing about her sister’s imminent departure, Mitra’s blind brother Ardeshir is restless and sleepless.
Fault Lines 
Director: Mandy Wong • Animation • Philadelphia • 3 min
A city landscape is deconstructed and reconstructed through the artist’s visual imagination.
The Odd Funeral
Director: Felix Swahn • Animation • Sweden • 13 min
After the family matriarch dies, she asks to have her ashes spread in the place of her youth. Her wish is the beginning of an unusual family road trip.
Over the Bridge
Director: Maria Lavelle • Documentary Short • Sioux Falls • 18 min
An exploration of homelessness in South Dakota.
Director: Laura Malatos • Student Short • Portland • 2 min
During WWII, an evacuee child tries to remain in contact with his mother through their only means of connection: words.
Friday, October 7 at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Technical and Community College
Director: Radheya Jegatheva • Student Short – 1st Place 2016 • Australia • 8 min
An astronaut drifting through space tries to find his way back home.
The Almelund Show: An American Story
Directors: Morry Engler and Dell Gross • Not for competition • Pine City/Rush City • 36 min
The rich agricultural heritage of East Central Minnesota is reborn each year at the Almelund Threshing Show, and that history comes to life in a whole new way in this warm and nostalgic documentary film. Learn about the hardships and joys of pioneer life and experience the passion of those who keep its traditions alive.
Director: Justin Carter • Action/Horror Short – 1st Place 2016 • United Kingdom • 10 minutes
A young couple enjoy a romantic camping trip in Devon, but their getaway becomes a nightmare when Ellie starts to experience visions of death.
Director: Andrew Martin • Drama Feature – 1st Place 2016 • United Kingdom • 1 hour 31 min
The year is 1959. Guy is an experienced British fighter pilot in Britain’s first manned mission to space. Now he is alone in space with a malfunctioning capsule. He has limited contact with the UK, and some unusual communication with the US and Soviet Russia. Can he get home? Who will help him? Will he make the right choice?
Friday, October 7 at 9 p.m. at Pizza Pub
Midnight Snack
Director: Cole Johnson • Student Short • USA • 2 min
Little Billy wakes up in the middle of the night hungry. As he walks toward his fridge, someone is following him…
Summer Citrus
Director: Nico Fulton Lavachek • Student Short • USA • 10 min
John and Oliver start a lemonade stand to raise money for an inflatable pool, but their competition’s lemonade is just too delicious.
Bubble Bath 
Director: Kevin Saxby • Comedy Short • Canada • 5 min
Jerry’s bath time is interrupted when a mysterious stranger calls his home. It gets worse before it gets wetter.
Director: Tony Morales • Action/Horror Short • Spain • 9 min
Tonight Hada comes to visit Daniel because her last child tooth has fallen out. What Daniel doesn’t expect is that his worst enemy is the light.
Director: Montana Hall • Animation • Los Angeles • 5 min
A girl walks home at night and has to come face-to-face with the monsters lurking in the darkness.
The Art of Human Salvage 
Director: Dempsey Tillman • Action/Horror Short • Los Angeles • 10 min
A young boy must by saved from execution by his last hope. Starring James Walters and Edward James Olmos.
Blind Light
Director: An Pham • Drama Short • Houston • 23 min
After a broken marriage, Kim threw her life into the shadow. When her mother’s health fails, dreams and passion are awakened again.
Directors: Josh Clarke and Jack Kelly • Comedy Feature – First Place 2016 • United Kingdom • 61 min
Love is like a bus… you wait all your life for one to turn up, then three turn up at once. A young man must decide which girl to pursue when three potential loves-of-his-life walk into his world on the same night.
Saturday, October 8 at 10 a.m. at the North West Company Fur Post
Director: Christian Washington • Animation • Muncie, Indiana • 5 min
Sometimes the people in our lives we find hardest to love end up being the most important people we should cherish.
Director: Ariel Jew • Animation • San Francisco • 3 min
When his grandfather passes, a young Haida boy decides to finish the totem pole that they had started, using the memories that they had together.
Director: Keith Mullin • Animation – First Place 2016 • Brooklyn Center • 5 min
An artist’s creation comes to life and explores its new surroundings.
Director: Otalia Causse • Animation • France • 3 min
With two musicians performing on stage, the lighting guy goes berserk.
Peep Story 
Directors: Jay and Amy Albrecht • Made in Minnesota • 2 min
Blue Peep and Pink Peep make their way through the big world while trying to find a marshmallow mate online. A chance encounter while waiting for the train blossoms into a sweet love story.
The Old Man and the Pears 
Director: Jing Sun • Animation • California • 5 min
A hungry old man begs for a pear, but the peddler refuses him. A little boy spends his last coin to buy a pear for the old man. Finally, a magical form of justice emerges.
Director: Viktor Lakisov • Animation • Russia • 1 hour 22 minutes
While the grownup ducks argue, the young ducks must join together to defeat the villains who seek to destroy the sun.
Saturday, October 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Technical and Community College
Director: Keith Mullin • Animation – First Place 2016 • Brooklyn Center • 5 min
An artist’s creation comes to life and explores its new surroundings.
The Search 
Director: Jesse Rubbelke • Not for competition • Pine City • 4 min
Unpaid debts come back to haunt a man and his visitor.
Optics for Love
Director: Martin Blanco, Clayton Stansberry • Made in Minnesota – First Place 2016 • 6 min
An industrial worker in St. Paul, Minnesota, seeks purpose while escaping his past.
Indian Summer 
Directors: Diana Fraser, Sam Dunnewold • Made in Minnesota • St. Paul •  9 min
A 20-something leaves her girlfriend at home to catch up with an old college friend, and during their night on the town sparks fly.
Tell Me What You See 
Director: Callie Jones • Made in Minnesota • Minneapolis • 4 min
A short, poetic documentary about what four young women believe makes them beautiful.
Free Associates 
Director: John Akre • Made in Minnesota • 3 min
An animated treatise on the must fundamental of rights, the right freely to associate.
Director: Sean A. Skinner • Made in Minnesota • Brooklyn Park • 7 min
The story behind the game, “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” is finally set straight.
Golden Light 
Directors: Justin Berrisford, Cole Meyer • Made in Minnesota • White Bear Lake • 7 min
After a young boy finds a magical ring in his backyard, he becomes his favorite superhero: Golden Light. But when the evil General Zorg comes to retrieve the ring, Bobby must use his newfound powers to protect his family.
Gypsy: Rock & Roll Nomads
Director: Aaron Goodyear • Documentary Feature – First Place 2016 • Minneapolis • 1 hour 31 min
The progressive rock band Gypsy roared out of the Twin Cities, landed in Los Angeles in 1969, scored a hit on the record charts and built a fervent nationwide following.  Six years later they called it quits. This is their absolutely true rock ‘n roll story.
Saturday, October 8 at 9 p.m. at Pizza Pub
Dirty Work 
Director: Dániel Füzes • Comedy Short • Hungary • 10 min
Bar owner Józsi is in an unpleasant situation. Somebody caused a problem and now he needs a cleanup. Unfortunately, his silent partner Badger sends a hitman to do the “dirty work,” while Józsi is expecting a plumber.
Call For A Good Time 
Director: Linnea Ritland • Comedy Short • Canada • 4 min
Either an absurdist, nonsensical comedy or a musing on confronting one’s own fears of love and rejection—or both.
Director: Keith Hopkins • Made in Minnesota • Duluth • 12 min
While working to restore an old derelict home, a handyman encounters the unexplainable.
I Want You Inside Me 
Director: Alice Shindelar • Made in Minnesota • 13 min
An introverted teenage girl searches for her boyfriend when he mysteriously disappears after they share an intimate moment.
Help Desk 
Directors: Sean Skinner, Edward Linder  • Brooklyn Park • Made in Minnesota • 8 min
You’d think it would be a simple task. Some people just can’t do it. That’s where the Help Desk comes in.
Looking Down 
Director: Ryan Becken • Not for competition • 8 min
Dan has lost his job and his girlfriend. Will he lose his life now too?
Best Laid Plans 
Directors: Amber Rhodes and Ryan Shaddelee • Not for competition • 8 min
30-year-old Jenny likes playing with her dolls and hanging out with her parents. But what will happen when her dolls come to life?
Z.E.T.A. Force 
Director: Ray Flint III • Made in Minnesota • White Bear Lake • 9 min
“After Effect” and his evil minions must be stopped by the “Z.E.T.A. Force” before hidden technological weapons sway the battle between good and evil forever.
Director: Mike Cheslik • Comedy Short – First Place 2016 • Milwaukee • 22 min
The League of Interplanetary Process Servers’ finest agent attempts to deliver 30 subpoenas throughout the universe in 10 minutes.
The Jason Phillips Show
Director: Kye Loren • Drama Short • United Kingdom • 29 min
The host of a scandal-mongering television program has a personal life that rivals those of the guests on his show.
Dead Sharks 
Director: Nic Barker • Drama Short • Australia • 16 min
A relationship is like a shark. It has to move forward or it dies.
Director: Sébastien Vanicek • Action/Horror Short • France • 13 min
Michel, subject to violent hallucinations, must overcome the imminence of death during his extradition flight towards United States.
Sunday, October 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Pine Technical and Community College
Letter to My Son 
Director: Maurice Hicks • Drama Short • North Carolina • 10 min
A tired and worn would-be father pens a hypothetical detailing his perspectives and fears to his unborn son.
The Example 
Director: Wyatt Cagle • Drama Short – First Place 2016 • Texas • 30 min
During a race riot in Beaumont, Texas in June 1943, worlds collide at a roadblock. Tensions explode on that hot summer night, forcing all involved to make decisions that will question their morals and loyalty.
Voices From Kaw Thoo Lei
Director: Martha Gorzycki • Made in Minnesota • 11 min
The Karen People of Burma, many of whom now live in Minnesota, believe no one hears their pleas for help as their country remains ravaged by a war that has lasted more than six decades.
The Hindu Thread 
Director: Jennifer Higgins • Animation • Milwaukee • 3 min
One of the things that makes us human is our ability to tell stories. Eugene Burger narrates the Hindu creation myth. Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains, and Shiva destroys, but that is not the end.
Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco 
Director: Leya Hale • Made in Minnesota • St. Paul • 27 min
Minnesotan American Indian communities are reclaiming traditional practices around Sacred Tobacco while educating their people on the growth of commercial tobacco’s frequent use in sacred traditions in order to untangle the two and promote a healthy lifestyle for future generations.
Split Costs 
Director: Jeffrey Blake Palmer • Drama Short • Boston •24 min
Two young women from disparate backgrounds share a ride to western Massachusetts. A story of unexpected friends navigating life’s bumpy roads and moving forward with hope.
A Life Well Played 
Director: Rene Erickson • Documentary Short – First Place 2016 • Inver Grove Heights • 30 min
What would it be like to do exactly what you wanted with your life?  Explore the life, music and motivation of eclectic guitarist and prolific composer Reynold Philipsek in this documentary portrait.

Children’s films at the North West Company Fur Post on Oct. 8

We’re excited to add something brand new this year – a completely new venue for screening independent films, in a place dedicated to the past. The North West Company Fur Post will be hosting a show of short and feature films for children at it’s Visitor Center just outside Pine City. Stop by at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8 to check out this set of family-friendly films and enjoy the ambience of the beautiful North West Company Fur Post!

North West Company Fur Post

12551 Voyageur Lane  PO Box 51

Pine City,  MN 55063

Kids and parents will also have the chance to learn a little about a remarkable exhibition coming to the area soon. The Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone will be featuring the Smithsonian Water/Ways  exhibition on November 19th, 2016 to January 1st, 2017. For more information, visit the link below:

Smithsonian Water/Ways

Last chance to submit in 2016!

We’ve received a number of amazing films from local, national and international filmmakers – but we don’t want anyone to feel left out! Submit your film today at

Submissions for 2016 will close on Friday, July 1.



Highway 61 Film Festival open for submissions!

Now six years strong, the 2016 Highway 61 Film Festival is looking for submissions from local, national and international filmmakers starting April 1.

Submissions may include short (less than 40 minutes) and feature films. Categories include: Drama, Comedy, Action/Horror, Documentary, Animation and a new category this year, Made in Minnesota, for films actually shot, in whole or part, in this great state. A special spot is reserved for Student Short films by students in grades K-12.

Submitted films are reviewed by judges, and cash prizes 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.

Early submission fees (by June 15) are $5 for short films and $10 per feature film. Late submission fees (by July 1) are $10 for short films and $20 per feature film submission. All  Made in Minnesota films are $1 and Student Short films (age 18 and under) are free to submit.

Last year over 1,000 films were submitted to the Highway  61 Film Festival through (an online independent film festival submission service), and the very best were featured at the October festival.

The festival will be held Oct. 6, 7, 8 and 9 at Pine Technical & Community College, Pizza Pub and the North West Company Fur Post in Pine City.

Films can be submitted at For more information, visit, the Highway 61 Film Festival page on Facebook, or follow on Twitter. Questions? Email

The Highway 61 Film Festival is sponsored by the nonprofit Pine Center for the Arts: 320-629-4924.

Film schedule • October 2, 3, 4 • 2015 Highway 61 Film Festival


Director: Sebastien Chamaillard • Comedy Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • France • 14 min
Julien, new recruit at the “Skin Center” sofa store, has a disastrous first test day on the job. His boss threatens to fire him if he does not make a sale within the next 24 hours!

Director: Mikhail Dovzhenko • Comedy Short – 2015 Finalist • Russia • 20 min
Based on true events, listeners are offered the choice to destroy (by paper shredder) or save a well-known, expensive, but controversial, contemporary work of art on live radio.

The Last Birthday
Director: Hannah Gautrey • Student Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • United Kingdom • 10 min
Wilfred spends his birthday in a retirement home wishing to be young. However his authoritarian caregiver prioritizes safety over happiness and they soon clash.

The Martyr

The Martyr
Director: Darren Langlands • Drama Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • United Kingdom • 10 min
MI5 Agent Laura Kent explains her actions to an internal inquiry in the aftermath of a major terrorism incident.

Get a Job
Director: Brian Kohne • Comedy Feature – 2015 1st Place Winner • Hawaii • 1 hour 30 min
Two friends attempt to find the dignity of gainful employment while bumbling through life and sharing the Aloha Spirit in Hawaii.

Get a Job



Maintenance Required
Director: JC Falcon • Action/Horror Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • California • 15 min
When Nappy, an overprotected simpleton in his 40s, loses his mother, he decides to journey to Las Vegas to find the love of his life.

Cami Leon Should Have Said No!
Director: Ryan Schaddelee • Comedy Short – not for competition • Minneapolis/St. Paul • 8 min
Cami Leon isn’t your average girl, she has a bit of a “condition” that brings her on an adventure filled day, with interesting interactions, leading to a date no one will ever forget!

Tom Thumb Jr

The Life and Times of Thomas Thumb Jr.
Director: Ryan Fox • Comedy Short – 2015 Finalist • Wisconsin • 15 min
Thomas Thumb Jr. is unlike any other man. He has a giant thumb for a head and he’ll do whatever it takes to achieve the American Dream.

Lincoln 666
Director: Ryan Becken • Comedy Short – not for competition • Minneapolis/St. Paul • 8 min
A mad painter believes he has painted the perfect portrait of Abraham Lincoln, but no one shares his vision. He doesn’t take it well.

Director: Michael Forstein • Drama Short – 2015 Finalist • Minneapolis • 15 min
Desperate for work, Darren agrees to a one-day trial as a door-to-door meat salesman.

The Raid
Director: Nathan Johnson • Action/Horror Short – 2015 Semifinalist • Kettle River • 17 min
After the outbreak of an unknown disease destroys society, groups of survivors must forage for shelter and supplies. In the process, many lose their sense of humanity.

The Raid2

We All Go the Same
Director: Morgana McKenzie • Student Short – 2015 Finalist • Canada • 4 min
By 15-year-old filmmaker Morgana McKenzie: “In the timeless world of fairy tales, villains and victims are visited by a vengeful fairy who offers to shift the balance of power.”

Caedes: Forestglade of Death
Director: Slavko Spionjak • Action/Horror Feature – 2015 1st Place Winner • Germany • 1 hour 29 min
Dan and his three friends go camping in a forestglade. After a wild night of drinking, a young woman is bitten by another camper. As panic and hysteria spread, they seek refuge in the forest … only to find absolute evil.


pretty dangerous1 bw

Pretty Dangerous
Director: Dan Laera • Documentary Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • Canada • 9 min
The story of Seleziya “Sparx” Esho, a Canadian professional wrestler, and the emotional divide between her obsession for the thing she loves and the physical and mental strain it puts on her body and family.

Waiting for the (t)rain
Director: Simon Panay • Documentary Short – 2015 Finalist • France • 25 min
Two times a week a train passes the small village of Burkina, Africa. Food items and water bottles thrown by the passengers constitute the main income of the village, and the only source of water during dry season.

Waiting train1The Wooden House

The Wooden House
Director: Hannah Gautrey • Student Short – 2015 Finalist • United Kingdom • 12 min
A short documentary on Wesley West, a sculptor and model maker based in Cambridge, England.

Scouts Oath 
Director: Ryan Rambach • Documentary Short – 2015 Finalist • California • 13 min
A short documentary about Len Lanzi, a former Boy Scouts of America executive official who was fired after coming out as gay in a public speech.

A Venue for the End of the World 
Director: Aidan Prewett • Documentary Feature – 2015 1st Place Winner • Australia • 95 min
A filmmaker investigates the dangers of audience manipulation and leader worship.

A venue for the end of the world bw


Where is the Water in White Bear Lake?
Director: Amy Okaya • Documentary Short – 2015 Finalist • White Bear Lake • 27 min
White Bear Lake is an icon of Minnesota, and over the last ten years, its waters have been seeping away. Where is the water going, and what can be done about it? There are no easy answers as the Land of 10,000 Lakes starts to recognize its water may be limited.

Early Retirement
Director: David Mair • Comedy Short – 2015 Finalist • Vadnais Heights • 7 min
A grizzled cop seeks vengeance for his fallen partner.

Beyond This Point
Director: Bob Strong • Comedy Short – 2015 Semifinalist • Minneapolis • 7 min
Tommy just wants to go to a movie, and maybe sneak some candy in for a treat. He sees the signs that warn him not to do this, but little does he know what lies ‘beyond this point.’

Mr. Thunderbird – In Rod We Trust 
Director: Dina Dainty • Documentary Short – 2015 Finalist • Centerville • 7 min
A short documentary about the beloved Minnesota landmark known as the Thunderbird Hotel, and the man who created and ran it for 42 years.

The Dinkytown Uprising

The Dinkytown Uprising – FILMMAKER ATTENDING!
Director: Al Milgrom • Documentary Feature – Not for competition • Minneapolis • 96 min
The year is 1970. The Vietnam War keeps escalating, and protests are erupting on college campuses. But in Minneapolis, word that a new fast-food franchise is planned in Dinkytown gives the “war at home” a different turn. This documentary chronicles the 40-day, 40-night continuous Dinkytown “occupation.” From film programmer-turned-filmmaker Al Milgrom, the story is recounted by seven participants whose reminiscences become a microcosm of the ‘70s generation.


Director: Lynne Hansen • Action/Horror Short – 2015 Finalist • Florida • 12 min
Millie is determined to prove to the world that she’s captured the first real zombie–even if he’s not one.

Director: TL Westgate • Comedy Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • Florida • 9 min
When the Department of Homeland Security needed a task force to fight modern day crime, they teamed up one hero cop with one tech savvy cop to form – TechSquad


Mantoson Biotechnology
Director: Julien Vergé • Action/Horror Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • France • 13 min
In the scientific reserve of the company Mantoson Biotechnology, a serviceman and scientist try to escape from their abusers.

Director: Michael Alberts • Action/Horror Short – 2015 Finalist • California • 15 min
Inspired by true events. Scott Somers mysteriously experiences sleep paralysis when his wife Marie sleepwalks at night. Unbeknownst to him, she lives with a horrible secret that slowly begins to eat away at their relationship.

The Whitefish Yacht Club
Director: John Gigrich • Comedy Short – 2015 Semifinalist • Minneapolis • 6 min
The wealthy Whitefish sisters call in a mysterious friend when they find a severed human foot in the cabin of their boat.

Curiosity Kills
Director: Sander Maran • Comedy Short – 2015 Finalist • 6 min
A failed chemistry experiment turns a little boy’s pet rat into a radioactive killer.

Volumes of blood2

Volumes of Blood
Directors: P.J. Starks, Nathan Thomas Milliner, Lee Vervoort, Jakob Bilinski, John Kenneth Muir • Action/Horror Feature – 2015 2nd Place Winner • Kentucky • 96 min
Five tales of dread interwoven when a sociology student gathers several of his friends on Halloween night at the library to help him create a new urban legend with deadly consequences.

Family-friendly session

Brewed Awakening

Brewed Awakening
Director: Brendan Kirschbaum • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • Connecticut • 4 min
A happy blue guy enters a coffee shop, excited to start his day. His positive attitude is tested, however, when he finds that nobody in the coffee shop will look up from their phones to say hello, or even acknowledge his existence.

Playing with Food
Director: Soohyun Kim • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • Texas • 3 min
A hungry fox prepares a TV dinner, but instead of a delicious, cooked meal he gets a surprise.

The Sugar Bug
Director: Will Hanley • Documentary Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • Vermont • 11 min
A look into the lives of sugar makers and the process of making maple syrup. Several sugar makers across the state of Vermont share their stories, experiences, and love for maple syrup.

The Casebook of Nips & Porkington
Director: Melody Wang • Animation Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • Canada • 3 min
The Casebook of Nips & Porkington is an animated short film about two members of the constabulary and their quest to restore a stolen egg to its distraught parents.

Princess Danya
Director: Xi Deng • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • Canada • 4 min
The creation story of the Li nation of Hainan Island at the south of China.

It Hit Upon the Roof
Director: Teymour Ghaderi • Student Short – 2015 Finalist • Iran • 3 min
A young boy is at home, alone with his sick mother. It is raining outside and the roof of their home is dripping. He is playing with his toys, and also collecting the pouring water but one spot is very challenging where his mother is sleeping. He wants to keep his mother dry and does not want to wake her up.

Wild Encounter

Wild Encounter
Directors: Phillip Brunson, Yadnee Kohok, Carlos Soler Quiroga • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • Georgia • 3 min
During a family’s trip in a drive-through safari, the kids want to feed the wild animals, but the father only wants to keep his car safe from harm. It is all up to the father to put a stop to the slobber fest.

Radio Orson
Director: Matt E. Novak • Documentary Short – 2015 Finalist • California • 14 min
In 1946 Orson Welles used his radio program to speak openly about the social issues of the day.

Switch Man

Switch Man
Director: Hsun-Chun Chuang • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • 4 min
Dr. Evil Mantis attacks K-City, but one young man, with a hidden superhero power, stands up to turn the chaos upside down.

I’ve Just Had a Dream
Director: Javi Navarro • Drama Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • Spain • 8 min
Irene is eight and she just woke up from a horrible dream.


Director: Iván Ruiz Flores • Drama Short – 2015 Finalist • Spain • 15 min
A new hairdresser styles an old client.

It’s In the Blood: Leo Abshire & the Cajun Tradition
Directors: Eric Scholl & Cyndi Moran • Documentary Feature – 2015 2nd Place Winner • Illinois • 1 hr 30 min
Cajun fiddler, instrument maker, cultural ambassador, and quite possibly the best musician most Americans have never heard of.


The Blue Sweater
Director: Dhaneesh Jameson • Animation Short – 2015 1st Place Winner • India • 6 min
A story of the love of a sister for her brother and the pain of a tragedy that befalls them during India’s “raksha bandhan,” when the special bond between siblings is celebrated.

Wild Oates
Director: Joshua J. Provost • Comedy Short – 2015 Finalist • Arizona • 5 min
John Oates (Hall & Oates) is pushed to the limit during a tedious music video shoot in this retro musical parody.

For God’s Sake…
Director: Chakravarty Devulapalli • Drama Short – 2015 Finalist • India • 11 min
A customer walks into a small barber shop in East Delhi, demanding a shave. Having faced the ordeal of 1984 anti-Sikh reprisal, the devout Sikh-turned-barber comes face to face with his bête noire.

For Gods SakeMr. Dentonn

Mr. Dentonn
Director: Ivan Villamel Sanchez • Action/Horror Short – 2015 Finalist • Spain • 9 min
On a cold winter night, Laura reads her brother David the story of a strange creature that attacks children. Suddenly, a shiver runs through Laura’s body, feeling a strange presence in the house. It’s him.

Valor Cat

Valor Cat
Director: Ben Reicher • Animation Short – 2015 Finalist • California • 7 min
This is the story of evil robot Burmac’s revenge against heroic Valor Cat. A story so theatrical and over the top that it can only be expressed … in song.

Lucky Numbers
Director: Chester Milton • Student Short – 2015 Finalist • California • 10 min
A young man steals a winning lottery ticket and claims $50 million. What happens next is profound and surprising.

Chickpeas with Sugar
Director: Antonio Aguilar • Student Short – 2015 2nd Place Winner • Spain • 10 min
A true story. It’s Feb. 7, 1937 and the entrance of nationalist troops in Málaga is imminent. A woman and her four daughters are preparing for a long way on foot to look for her husband. Surviving each day becomes the main objective. Almería is more than 200 kilometers away and fatigue, hunger and bombs become their companions.

Director: Suki Singh • Drama Feature – 2015 1st Place Winner • United Kingdom • 1 hour, 37 min
Sam Heughan stars in this noir psychological thriller about a man searching for his missing wife.