Prairie Pulse 1721: Emily Beck , Fargo Film Festival Preview

Prairie Pulse 1721: Emily Beck , Fargo Film Festival Preview


(upbeat music) – Hello and welcome
to “Prairie Pulse.” Coming up, later in the
show, we’ll see clips from the winning
films of the upcoming Fargo Film Festival. But first, joining
me now is the actual film festival
Director, Emily Beck. Emily, thanks for
joining us today. – It’s a pleasure to be here. – And of course, you’re also
the Fargo Theater director, full time, year-round. But I think full
time, year-round you may work on this
Fargo Film Festival. – (chuckles) You
are correct, yeah. – As we get started
though, tell the folks a little bit about yourself,
your background maybe. – Sure, sure. I grew up in
Valley City, North Dakota. I came to the Fargo-Moorhead
community to attend the MSUM in 2001, and
that’s when I fell in love with the Fargo Theater and the Fargo Film Festival. I actually started
out as a volunteer, as a student with the festival. And now, (chuckles) here we
are, all these years later and I’m the Executive
Director of the Fargo Theater and it’s kind of a
dream come true, yeah. – Well good for you
’cause you should always do a job you enjoy doing. It sounds like you do. It’s sort of amazing to think
about the upcoming festival being, 20th year. Now the festival, well
tell me when it is and talk a little bit about it. I know you weren’t around
in the first years of it, but talk about how
it got started. – Absolutely, so this is
our 20th annual festival, and we are celebrating
all year-round (chuckles) since we
reached that milestone. The Fargo Film Festival
was basically born in the year 2000, when a bunch of local film
lovers, so it was Tony McCray and Ted Larson and Margie
Bailey and Matt Olien They got together and they
realized that a film festival is a major cultural event in a
lot of cities across America, and around the world,
and we didn’t have one here in our community. So they worked very hard and launched the inaugural
film festival in 2001 and it’s been going ever since. – Well it has been. Can you talk about, maybe,
some of the obstacles that had to be overcome
to make it successful? – Well absolutely. I know one of the things
they struggled with early on in the festival was finding
a second screening room. At that time the Fargo Theater was just a one-auditorium
film house, and so they got very
creative in the early years, going around Downtown Fargo
to find these, kind of, makeshift second
screening venues. I know they had one in
the old, Moose Building, they had Palais Broadway. I think one year they even did a screening room
in the, Ivers Funeral Home. So they got real creative
and solved that problem until we were fortunate
enough to get theater two at the Fargo Theater. – Yeah, theater two created
a lot of opportunities for you, we may talk
about that later, but let’s stay
with the festival. What kind of special events
or programming do you have to mark that 20th year? – Oh, yeah, we are celebrating. So on March 20th, 2020, hopefully that’s easy
for folks to remember, they can come on down that Friday afternoon
starting at 1:30 p.m., and we’ll be showing a
retrospective of films that have run in the festival, over the course of
the last 19 festivals. So there’ll be some clips
from previous films, we’ll show some full
length short films, and we’ve invited
some film makers that have attended the
festival in past years to come back to Fargo
and help us celebrate. So there’ll be
cake and champagne and all sorts of
great movies (laughs). – All right, sounds
like a good time, but talk about
this year’s films. What are some of
the winning films, and can you tell
us a little more? – Yeah, so one of the
great things about the Fargo Film Festival
is that if you like movies of any sort, you’ll be
able to find something that appeals to you. And we’ve nearly 100 films
showing again this year, it’s a little bit of everything. There’s dramas and
comedies and love stories and documentaries and
experimental films. We even show some student work. So no matter what you like I think you can find
something that’ll appeal to your taste. Some of my favorites
include, our opening night, we’re going to be
doing a showcase of award winning short films. On Wednesday night of
the Fargo Film Festival we’ll be showcasing
a documentary that features an artist living
out in Bismarck, North Dakota by the name of
Shane Balkowitsch. And Shane works in
wet plate photography. And his skills are just
absolutely remarkable. He’s photographed
all sorts of subjects including recently
Greta Thunberg when she was out in North Dakota and the film captures
that moment as well. So the film’s directors and
Shane, himself, will be here Wednesday night
after that film shows to do a Q and A
with the audience. And I can’t wait to learn
more about his process. – What about the four
Oscar-nominated films (laughs)? – Yeah, yeah, we are so
excited that this year four of our short films,
in the Fargo Film Festival, were nominated for
Academy Awards. Two of them are animated shorts. There’s a film called “Daughter”
and a film called “Sister,” and that one really, oh, that one really
captured my heart because the filmmaker grew up in China under their one-child policy,
and it’s just this little beautiful daydream about
what it would have been like to grow up with a
“bratty little sister” that he always
dreamed of having. So that’s a lovely piece. We also have two in the
live action category, a heartbreaking film
called “Brotherhood” and then, one of my favorite
films in the entire festival, was our narrative short winner,
and it also just took home the Academy award for
“Best Live Action Short,” “The Neighbor’s Window.” So we love to see that our films are getting this kind of
recognition from the Academy because for us it’s
that validation that, “Yeah, we are on
the right track, “we are offering the very best “in independent film
making to our community.” – You hit on it, right there, what I wanted to ask you is, is how does that
raise the prestige of the Fargo Film festival? – It’s great, you know
a lot of our film makers and artists from outside
of the community, they don’t really know what
to expect when they think ‘Fargo Film Festival’,
but the fact that we’re able to show these
Academy Award-nominated films and some of our other films
have played at Sundance or Cannes or Tribeca. So the fact that we’re
able to offer that content, yeah, I think it really raises our prestige in the community. – Well you talked about
some people coming. Are there are any more
special guests coming? – Oh, absolutely. For the last few years we’ve
had about 45 filmmakers attend the festival. And they truly do come
from across the country and all over the globe. There’s an actor
named Paul Bailey, he’s a London-based actor who’s seen some great
success recently, and he will actually
be attending the
Fargo Film Festival for the fourth year in a row. Paul continues to
make great work, and it continues to be
accepted into the festival. And he’s just kind
of fallen in love with the community here. And so it’s something that he
looks forward to every year, is coming back and
seeing the people. He’s made friends here, and our audiences
just adore the chance to interact with him. – Let’s get into some of
the details maybe, of it, can you talk about, sort
of, the volunteer work that goes into this, and the people serving
on juries (chuckles), and you might explain
what a jury is for the people that
may, who wonder. – Absolutely, the
Fargo Film Festival is a volunteer-driven event. And the team and I, we
truly do work year-round to produce it. We begin taking submissions: filmmakers can submit to
the film festival online through a website in the spring and
summer of every year. And then we have a team
of about 80 volunteers. We divide them up into the
seven different categories, and they watch the film
submitted into their category, and then they get
together, as a jury, and they make the
decision about which films will be selected into
the Fargo Film Festival, which films will
win special awards, and which films, of course,
sadly, won’t make the cut. We have over 300 films
submitted every year and just about 100
are selected usually. So it’s pretty competitive now. – Going back 20 years to
now, did you see a lot more once you could do
online submissions? – Oh my goodness, yeah, yah. I know the first few years the festival included
about 30 films total, and now, like I said,
we’re up to over 100, and because we’re online now,
we’re a truly global festival. We’re getting films submitted
from, I think it was, 25 or 26 different countries. So it’s really great to have
those international voices. – Sure, you mentioned cake
and champagne, I think, but talk about
some of the parties and maybe the panel lunches. – Absolutely, you know
the social aspects are a huge part of any festival because people that
attend, in our community, then get the really
unique chance to socialize with these artists, with these actors and directors
and writers that are here from all over. So we try to have a lot
of fun with our parties. If you buy our special
all-access pass, you’ll get admission into, we have some sort of
soiree every night. Sometimes it’ll be at a
local restaurant Downtown. One night we have a
bowling party (laughs) in Moorhead at “All Star Bowl,” we pack all of the
filmmakers up in some vans and we bring them over
for pizza and bowling, and that’s a lot of fun. And then on closing
night of the festival we’ll have our big
do at the Radisson after our closing night films. – OK, you mentioned
showing the films, can you talk about the
two venues for showing? – Absolutely yes, so now,
fortunately we’re all located at the Fargo Theater. We have films running
morning, afternoon and night of all five days
of the festival. And one of the cool
things about our festival is that if you buy a
ticket for a session, so you buy an afternoon ticket,
you can go back and forth between the two auditoriums,
between theater one and theater two. You can kind of design
your own screening schedule as what might appeal to you. – You mentioned some
of this already, but, you know, why
has the festival gained such a strong reputation? I mean, just because
you’re online doesn’t mean you’re going to get it? So what has it done in getting these quality
movies, the films? – It’s the people here,
it’s our volunteers. They work so hard to
identify these top films, and then once the film
makers come, everyone here, it’s our volunteers, it’s our
audiences, it’s our sponsors, they all make them feel
so welcome and celebrated. So these filmmakers will
come and they’ll have a wonderful experience. Fargo will typically
exceed their expectations. They come into our
Downtown community, and they’re like,
“this is fabulous.” And so then, they’ll come back, or they’ll tell their friends and so we’ve worked really
hard to build that reputation, and it’s one of the
things I’m most proud of with the festival. – For me, I’m not that
familiar with film festivals as much as some of you are, but, you know, you talked
about guests loving to come back and
that hospitality, but that’s not always
true at all festivals. – No, no, you know especially
the large festivals where it’s all about wheeling
and dealing and making a deal on a new film. A lot of filmmakers,
especially the independent ones that are making a movie
on a shoestring budget, they can really get lost
in the crowd, you know? They’re one of several 100
filmmakers that are there. And here we do everything we can to make sure that they feel
special and celebrated. And then they get the chance
to interact with audiences and talk about their work. – Which I’m sure
they love doing. – Yeah – So can you talk
about the future plans and what you’d like to see? – Oh well, for the next
20 years I suppose. We’re dreaming big. We’re hoping to hopefully
expand the number of days the festival runs, maybe add another
weekend in the future. And a very long term
goal for us would be to become an Oscar-qualifying
film festival. Which means that if your
film is selected to play at the Fargo Film Festival,
you would then be eligible to be considered for
an Academy Award. That’s a big deal. It’s a long term goal for us, but we’re taking it
step-by-step (chuckles). – No, well good. We said we’d talk
about the theater, let’s turn to that for a minute. Tell us a little bit
about the Fargo Theater, it’s mission and the
entertainment it provides? – Yeah, well, you know,
the Fargo Theater, we’re so proud to be a landmark, you know, our marquee is
one of the most photographed locations in Fargo, but we are so much
more than that. You know, inside our
historic building, is this thriving
arts organization. We’re open 364 days
and nights a year showing the best in new
release independent film, and we’ve got live
entertainment on our stage, at least a handful
of times a month we’ll have touring artists,
comedians, musicians, that are performing live on
stage at the Fargo Theater. And of course our beautiful
historic building, like I mentioned. So we’re all those
things, kind of, wrapped into one (laughs). – Can you talk about
some of the awards, a couple of these
awards are here, so the “Ted Larson Award,” and of course the “Margie
Bailey Volunteer Spirit Award,” and those winners maybe. – Absolutely. So these are two of our
most important awards. They’re given to people who
contribute in a variety of ways, the “Ted M. Larson
Award” is considered the festival’s highest honor. It’s basically our equivalent of the “Lifetime
Achievement Award.” And this year it’ll be presented to Tom Brando who
is a filmmaker, he was a film professor
for many years at MSUM. He’s a mentor to so many
of us in the film community locally here, so it’ll be
such an honor and a pleasure to recognize everything he’s
contributed with that award. The “Margie Bailey
Volunteer Spirit Award” is named after an incredible
lady, Margie Bailey, who is one of the founders
of the film festival. And it’s given every year
to recognize some volunteers that go truly above
and beyond for us. ‘Cause, as I said,
the film festival’s a volunteer-driven event. We would be nowhere
without these people. And this year it’s given
to a pair of best friends Peg O’Neil and Jenny Jensen, who volunteered for the
festival for 10 years now. – Yeah, and just stay on
those two folks a minute, at least, Margie Bailey. I know she was a driving
force for this festival for the first few years in getting it going
and off the ground. – Oh absolutely. Like I said, she was
a founding member and then she was director
of the film festival and the Fargo
Theater through 2011. So she helped it grow and
thrive and she made sure that it’s still here
for all of us to enjoy. – So is she still involved? – Oh, absolutely. She likes to say that she’s
our biggest cheerleader. She attends the
festival every year every February she
actually hosts a social for all of our volunteers
to make sure that they feel you know, appreciated
and supported, and, ah, we love
Margie (laughs). – All right well, so
what’s your favorite part of the festival? – My favorite part
of the festival is, I’ve seen all the
films in advance, and every year I fall
pretty madly in love with a few of them. And my favorite part of
the festival is probably to sneak in the back of
the (chuckles) auditorium while one of those
favorite films is playing, and I get to watch the audience watch the film. And, ah I’m getting emotional, it’s that there’s just nothing
more rewarding than that. – So tell me more about, how
many people usually turn out for the things? And you talked about, you don’t have to buy a ticket
for the whole five days? Talk to us more about that.
– Oh, gosh, yeah. People do it all sorts
of different ways. We do have people
that come every year. They’ll buy the full
pass and they’ll watch all the movies, you know, they spend all five days at the Fargo theater
just watching movies. But most of our
audiences just come to one or two evenings, or one
afternoon here or there. And there’s a variety
of passes to fit whatever kind of time
commitment you’re looking for. – Yeah, it’s hard for
us to keep Matt Olien here at “Prairie Public,”
(laughing) during the festival week. He loves it. How can volunteers get involved? Probably a little
late for this year, but how can they get involved? – We will actually
have a sign up sheet at the festival this March. You’ll be able to go to our
merchandise desk and sign up if you’re interested in
joining the team for 2021. We’re always looking
for new recruits. – Well, and with that, you know, we’ve talked about
volunteers a couple of times. How important is it for you to have those volunteers? – I can’t imagine the
festival without them. People like Matt Olien, people like Greg Carlson
and Dinah Goldenberg They give their all to
this event year-round. The number of hours that
these volunteers put in, watching movies, going to
meetings, planning events, it’s really hard to
even put a number on it. It means so much to them, to
produce this for the community, to give back to the community
and the Fargo Theater in that way because
the festival’s our
largest fundraiser. So they know by
producing this event they’re helping the
Fargo Theater too. These people are
remarkable (laughs). – Is there anything you wanna
to change for the near future, for the festival? – We just want to keep growing. That’s what we’re
thinking right now, we just wanna to keep expanding
and seeing what’s possible. – Well, with that
said, if people now, if they wanna get tickets, it’s not too late? Where can people go,
who can they contact? – You can buy them in
person, at the Fargo Theater box office, or you
can buy them online at www.fargofilmfestival.com. And there’s the description
of all the different types of passes and tickets available. – Well Emily, we’re
looking forward to it and we wish you the best of luck with the 20th anniversary
Fargo Film Festival. – Thank you so much John. – Stay tuned for more. (mellow music) – And now let’s look at clips
from the seven winning films at this year’s 20th annual
Fargo Film Festival. ♪ Goodbyes always take us ♪ ♪ Half an hour ♪ ♪ Can’t we just go home ♪ ♪ Nobody else will
be there then ♪ ♪ Nobody else will be there ♪ ♪ Nobody else will
be there then ♪ ♪ Nobody else will be there ♪ (melancholy music) (chattering over radio) (footsteps crunching softly) (camera clicking) (daunting music) (cigarette lighter clicking) (camera clicking) – [Man] It’s not safe Dan. (daunting music) (camera clicking) (sighs) – [Dan] Can you read that? – Marceau Marseise,
he’s a local councilor. (banging) – What’s that? Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay. Hey it’s okay. (speaking in foreign language) – It’s okay (speaking in foreign language) (thudding)
(groans) (ground crunching) – [Man] Dan, please, get back. There are land mines. (daunting music) – Okay, okay. It’s okay. (camera clicking) (speaking in foreign language) – No! (daunting music) (crickets chirping) (groaning) – Oh, (sniffing) (crying) (snapping)
Poor baby. (sniffling) My baby. I can’t just feel
what God has done. I just don’t think it
was your time baby. I just don’t. (sniffling) But I love you,
and I want you back so much. I want you back, I wish
you would come back. I wish they hadn’t
had done this to you. (sniffling) I wish this
hadn’t happened, baby. You’re too young. (sniffs) – Don’t call, don’t
register for an audition. Show up to the Baltimore School
for the Arts on a Saturday, auditions are over. She said “What are
you doing here?’ I was like ‘Yo, I
came to audition. “I’m coming to the School
for the Arts,” (chuckles). And he’s like, “Oh really? “You’re coming to the School
for the Arts?” (chuckles). I was like “Yeah,
I’m ready to play.” – There wasn’t much apparent,
I mean he didn’t have much book knowledge at that point. If you’re musical you can
manipulate sound in a way that is expressive,
it is beautiful, and you can sense that
at very minute levels. – He went and talked to
the other brass faculty at School for the Arts, and he said, ‘You must be the
luckiest guy on the planet. “We’re gonna accept you into
the School for the Arts.” Probability of that,
that one in a million. – [Professor] The mandate for
the arts is incredibly low, I don’t think any parent
in the world would say the value of my child is the
skill with which they can do an algebra problem. The value of your child is
how they interpret the world, and how they give meaning
to you and your family. (birds chirping) – [Gwen] Hi. – Hi
(snapping) – That is Paul Ponotti. (birds chirping) – Wow, he’s got a
beautiful camouflage. – [Gwen] Isn’t he gorgeous! This is his basic color
when he’s feeling relaxed. (scraping) – [Chris] So they don’t just
adapt to the surroundings? – No, Some turn a
fiery red in anger, or even black when
they’re feeling hostile. – That’s super handy. (water gurgling) – He’s not the most
social one, but who cares. – How long have you been
working at Walden Industrial? – About seven years, Sir. – And you like the job? – Yes Sir, I do. Of course, I think
I could do more. Handle more, I mean. (thudding) – Are you looking
for a promotion? – No, no, I don’t
want to be pushy, no. But, you know, if you think
maybe that’s appropriate. – I am looking for a supervisor
to cover second shift. What do you say? You game? (hands smacking together) (groaning) (bangs against the panel) (thoughtful music) (water gurgling) – Well, that’s all we have
on “Prairie Pulse” this week. And as always,
thanks for watching. (uplifting music) (upbeat music) – [Advertiser] Funded by “The
Members of Prairie Public.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *