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Film festival highlight of weekend

The 11th annual Whiskey Creek Film Festival is shaping up to have its best year yet.

The festival, put on at Wadena's Cozy Theatre, had approximately 1,000 people attend by Sunday evening. Cozy Theatre owner Dave Quincer estimated that the festival was $600 ahead of last year's profits as of Sunday evening.

Quincer said the festival began in 2004 with two films being shown for a few days. This year, eight films were shown from Sept. 11 through Sept. 17.

This year's lineup featured six films currently in cinema. "Phoenix," a drama set in post-WWII, is about a concentration camp survivor determined to discover whether her husband sold her out to the Nazi's. "Mr. Holmes" looks at an aging Sherlock Holmes, who, because of a degenerative disease, can't remember the outcome of his last case, which threw him into retirement. "I'll See You in My Dreams" stars Blythe Danner looking at a second chance at love. "Infinitely Polar Bear" shows the stark reality of living with someone who has bipolar disorder. "Me and Earl and The Dying Girl", perhaps the best known film in this year's festival, is a dark comedy about a selfish boy becoming friends with a girl dying of leukemia. This film won several awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. "Love and Mercy" follows the true story of Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, who suffers from mental illness and under the care of a shady psychiatrist.

The Whiskey Creek Film festival committee also chooses a film each year made in and about Minnesota. This year's selection was "Dinkytown Uprising," a documentary 45 years in the making about a 40-day occupation of the Minneapolis neighborhood with people protesting both the Vietnam war and the construction of a corporate burger chain.

To keep the festival family friendly, there was also a free film shown Saturday and Sunday, "The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet," about a child genius who runs away from home to accept a prestigious award while mourning the loss of his twin brother.

I have attended the film festival for the last few years and this year's selection of films is by far the best I have seen. I have enjoyed several films featured at the festival in the past, but this year, each film was excellent.

The festival draws viewers from all over the state. Quincer said he had people come from Hastings and Bemidji this year. He went on to say that more people come from out of town to the festival than Wadena residents.

How are films chosen for the festival? A committee meets in late July and early August to discuss what films are doing well in theaters throughout the country which would not normally be seen in rural Minnesota.

Local businesses also support the festival with monetary donations or providing specials during festival week. Local businesses who helped support the festival this year include: Wadena Hide and Fur; Arvig; Kennedy, Carlson and Van Bruggen; Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank; Wadena State Bank; Hometown Crafts and Fabrics of Wadena and Detroit Lakes; Tri-County Health Care; First National Bank in Wadena; Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative; Craig and Associates Ameriprise Financial in Wadena and the Wadena Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

The Cyber Cafe, Larry's Family Pizza, Harvest Thyme Bistro, Pizza Ranch and Boondocks Cafe partnered with festival organizers to provide specials and coupons for use during the festival to draw more customers and support the community.

Anyone wanting to help with the festival next year should contact Quincer at the Cozy Theatre.