And the winners are…

The judges had a challenging time winnowing through the great films submitted to the 2013 Highway 61 Film Festival. After tallying their results, these are the winners.

Comedy Short

First Place: Rocket Surgeons (Director Wes Fischer)

Second Place: Not Like the Commercials (Director Wyatt Cagle)

Drama Short

First Place: Les Esclaves (Director Jesse Mast)

Second Place: Aakhir – At Last (Director Tarun Jain)

Drama Feature

First Place: Not Quite Lyin’ Eyes (Director Doug Phillips) 

Student Short

First Place: Syren (Director Will Nelson)

Second Place: Honor Among Thieves (Directors Jack Beiderman and Gabriel Strauss)

Animation Short

First Place: Maze (Director Marianna Mankowska)

Second Place: Coffea – The Coffee Fairy (Director Susan Shay Brugger)

Documentary Feature

First Place: The American Road (Directors Warren Leming and Kurt Jacobsen) 

Second Place: Sled Dogs to St. Paul: The Race for Clean Water (Directors Kelly Schoenfelder and Patrick Knight) 

Action/Horror Short

First Place: The Information Thief (Director John Gigrich)

Action/Horror Feature

First Place: The Giant Spider (Director Christopher R. Mihm) 





Cash prizes ($50 short/$100 feature) will be awarded to all first-place winners. Prizes were awarded for all categories in which films were submitted. Congratulations to all the winners!

Map of Highway 61 Film Festival

Coming up to Pine City for the festival? Here’s a map showing festival site locations. Day and evening showings will be presented at the Pine Technical College Auditorium (900 4th Street SE, Pine City 55063), while the free late-night shows will be held at Danny C’s BeachRocks (10762 Lakeview Shore Drive).

Photos on Buildings will be held on the back of Pine Plaza as shown on the map. However, in case of rain, the photos will be shown indoors at Pine Technical College.

See you soon!

Map for Film Fest Program B W

Visit Photos on Buildings this weekend

logo small photos on buildings

Just north of Pine Technical College is another unique Pine City arts project.

The idea behind Photos on Buildings was simple: local photographers would project their photos onto the walls of Pine City shops and offices, transforming the buildings into a canvas for their work.

The project had a successful first year in 2011, with many local residents stopping by to view the images and talk with the artists.

Through a generous grant from Forecast Public Art, internationally famed photographer Wing Young Huie came to Pine City in 2012, and the resulting photos first became a gallery show at Pine Center for the Arts and then part of the 2012 Photos on Buildings display.

The show continues to evolve in 2013. Focusing on the theme of “Community,” area photographers were invited to share their photos highlighting what they love and celebrate about the area, as well as areas where the community can improve.

Head up 4th Street SE to the corner of 8th Ave. SW before the late night show to catch a glimpse of the wide variety of area photographers projecting their photos at the 2013 Photos on Buildings.

Note: In case of rain, an alternate indoor location will be chosen for Photos on Buildings. 

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.


Official selections and 2013 screening schedule

The Highway 61 Film Festival is proud to announce our list of official selections and 2013 film schedule.

Films are being reviewed by judges, and winners will be announced shortly before the first night of the festival on Oct. 4. The schedule below may be subject to change.

Congratulations to all the filmmakers!

FRIDAY 6:00 P.M.

Pine Technical College Auditorium

Language, mild violence


Tales of the Road: Highway 61  58 min

Director: Cathy Wurzer


Les Esclaves  16 min

Director: Jesse Mast


Useful. Valid. True 11 min

Director: David Golden


Sled Dogs to St. Paul 43 min

Directors: Kelly Schoenfelder and Patrick Knight


Total 130 minutes (2h10m)



Danny C’s BeachRocks Pub & Supper Club

Language, violence, sexual content


Honor Among Thieves  12 min

Directors: Jack Beiderman and Gabriel Strauss


Maze  2 min

Director: Marianna Mankowska


Our Killing Time 13 min

Directors: Kirk Eckstine and Nate Johnson


Two Stiffs  13 min

Director: David Hoh


Rocket Surgeons 13 min

Director: Wes Fischer


Deadly Love 18 min

Director: Doug Phillips


The Healing Musical 8 min

Director: John Gigrich


79 minutes (1h20m)




Pine Technical College Auditorium


Iter Ad Terram Promissionis  8 min

Directors: Nathanile Kavaler and Robert Newman


Coffea – The Coffee Fairy 1 min

Director: Susan Shay Brugger


Syren  9 min

Director: Will Nelson


The American Road  110 min


Total 128 minutes (2h8m)



Pine Technical College Auditorium

Language, violence


The Information Thief  10 min

Director: John Gigrich


Aakhir (At Last) 16 min

Director: Tarun Jain


Not Like the Commercials 9 min

Director: Wyatt Cagle


The Panhandler 30 min

Director: Kevin Horn


McMeta 6 min

Director: Zach Hammill


Small Steps 18 min

Director: John Gigrich


Lima Syndrome 11 min

Director: Ryan Becken


The Elevator 11 min

Director: Rachid Jnane


For Ashley 8 min

Director: Zach Hammill


Total 126 minutes (1h59m)



Danny C’s BeachRocks Pub & Supper Club

Language, violence, sexual content


Another Saturday Night 5 min

Director:Zach Jansen


Problem Solving the Republic 94 min

Director: Elliot Diviney


Sunrise’s Favorite Son 124 min

Director: Toney Ehrnriter, Dennis Walters and Lee Wilcox


223 minutes (3h43m)


SUNDAY 12:00 P.M.


Pine Technical College Auditorium

Includes international selections, some subtitles


Escape from Schwartz’s Bakery 1 min

Director: Susan Shay Brugger


“Al Milgrom Selects”… approx. 90 min


Total 121 minutes (1h31m)


SUNDAY 6:00 P.M.

Pine Technical College Auditorium

Mild violence, horror themes


Keeper 15 min

Director: Mike Gainor


Misiek and the Bloody Monitor 2 min

Director: Marianna Mankowska


Hairdo or DIE: The First Cut 33 min

Director: Jerome Erickson


The Giant Spider 71 min

Director: Christopher R. Mihm


Total 121 minutes (2h1m)

Cathy Wurzer coming to Pine City to kick off 2013 Highway 61 Film Festival

Award-winning Minnesota journalist Cathy Wurzer is heading to Pine City on Oct. 4 to show her film “Tales of the Road: Highway 61” at the Pine Technical College Auditorium for the opening of the third annual Highway 61 Film Festival.

Wurzer’s documentary takes viewers rolling down Highway 61 in a 1946 Cadillac for an entertaining ride through Minnesota’s past and present. She followed up that film with a companion book of the same name.

Wurzer is the host of Morning Edition for Minnesota Public Radio News. She is also the co-host of Almanac, a weekly public affairs program produced by Twin Cities Public Television for Minnesota’s statewide public television network.

On Facebook, Wurzer said it’s both “cool” and “scary” to see her film on the big screen, and that she’s looking forward to coming to Pine City.

“Honored to be asked to be present,” Wurzer said. “Hope folks can come to Pine Technical College.”

What exactly is a film festival?

The third annual Highway 61 Film Festival, coming to Pine City on Oct. 4, 5 and 6, is sure to be a fun bunch of shows for those who attend, but others are wondering if it’s worth their time – what exactly is a film festival, after all?

Basically, a lot of filmmakers are out there making movies just for the love of it – though some are making a living in the business, and others have high hopes to join them.

A film festival is a chance for these folks, working outside the Hollywood system and using small budgets, to show their movies in front of an audience.

For the film festival audience, it’s about discovery. All of the films have been selected by judges to make sure the best ones get on the screen. And the ones that do make it have something special about them – great acting, an amazing story, big laughs or powerful drama. Sometimes it’s all of the above.

And who comes to a film festival?

Everyone who loves going to a theater, getting a drink and a bag of fresh, hot popcorn and watching great movies.

Shows will be held at the Pine Technical College Auditorium and at Danny C’s BeachRocks. Tickets for each show are $5, or purchase an all-access weekend pass for only $20.

tales of the road