Speechless Film Festival Announces Film Selections and Special Events

Mankato, Minn.—The 4th annual international Speechless Film Festival will occur Thursday-Saturday this March 17-19, 2016 in several venues located in downtown Mankato. This is the festival’s largest event to date, with a record number of submissions yielding 100 short and feature film selections from 23 countries. This year’s festival will also feature new and exciting special events, including a concert by experimental indie rock band Cloud Cult, a VIP party hosted by ISG, an Awards Ceremony at the Mankato Event Center, and several visiting filmmaker talks for area college students and the public hosted at Bethany Lutheran College.

Cloud Cult Film & Concert
Cloud Cult will perform opening night following the screening of feature film The Seeker (pre-production cut), a film created by the band to accompany the music of their latest album release. The film received the Speechless Film Festival Best of Show award in the Visual Music Category and was directed by Minnesotan producer Jeff Johnson of Motion 17 Productions. Johnson will attend the festival and speak about the film with Cloud Cult front man Craig Minowa. The film stars Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) and Alex McKenna (What Women Want). Cloud Cult’s music has received positive reviews from The Rolling Stone and New York Times and was played on the television series How I Met Your Mother.

Films & Award Winners
Other feature films in the 2016 film line-up include The Rainbow Kid, which won the festival’s Best of Show award in the Features category. The film was directed by Kire Paputts (Canada) and is particularly noteworthy as it stars a teenager with Down syndrome. Another notable feature film, Broke, follows the story of a disgraced sports star and gambling addict who attempts to turn his life around with the support of his number one fan.

The remaining selections are short films (40 minutes or less) sorted into thematic blocks including: Animation, Art, Body Issues, Comedy, Coping, Culture, Documentary, Dreams & Nightmares, Experimental, The Gauntlet, Mystery, Romance, and Made in Minnesota. More information on the showcases and a synopsis and photo from each film is available at
www.speechlessfilmfestival.com/2016-films. Several trailers are also posted.

A list of other 2016 Speechless Film Festival award winners is below. Speechless provides generous cash awards to Best of Show winners.

Oasis, by Carmen Jimenez & Chris Boyce (USA). Best of Show, Shorts.
Synopsis: After her husband dies, Nieves inherits his job as the super of a decaying apartment complex in New York City. But the job becomes more difficult than she anticipated when she discovers a young girl locked in one of the units.
Review: “Oasis presents a tension filled storyline matched with great composition, editing, acting, and cinematography.” - Amy Magnus, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

For Anna, by Andrea Zuliani & Francesca Scanu (Italy). Best of Show, Speechless Shorts (Professional.)
Synopsis: Two kids, a small Sardinian town, a magic meeting they will never forget.
Review: “Consistently lovely.” - Ann Rosenquist Fee, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

Lima, by Afshin Roshanbakht & Vahid Jafari (Iran). Best of Show, Animation/Experimental.
Review: “This is a beautiful, gentle film. The narrative is strong, steadily developing. The visuals reflect the wonder of Lima’s relationship to his father. The animation is spot on. I loved it.” - Donna Casella, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

Margret and Helmut, by Clemens Beier (Germany). Best of Show, Speechless Shorts (Student).
Synopsis: When Margret loses her husband to his diagnosed dementia, she creates a new reality for them.
Review: “This might be a perfect movie—everything serves the story…the visuals, the dialogue, the music, it is all of a piece. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Bravo.” - Lars
Johnson, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

Veritas, by Stephen Kane (USA). Best of Show, Made in Minnesota.
Synopsis: In the near future, a man carefully curates his social media feed using the latest technology.
Review: “Loved it!” - Ryan Sturgis, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos*, by Konstantin Bronzit (Russian Federation). Award of Merit, Animation/Experimental.
*Oscar nominated film—Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Two cosmonauts, two friends, try to do their best in their everyday training life to make their common dream a reality. But this story is not only about the dream.
Review: “Bittersweet, funny, and emotionally moving.” - Eric Ouren, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

RESERVE 107, by Brad Leitch (Canada). Award of Merit, Shorts.
Synopsis: Indigenous rights and title to the land remains a taboo topic in mainstream Canadian culture. But in the small town of Laird, Saskatchewan, an old injustice is providing new opportunities for dialogue, friendship and a fierce determination to repair the wrongs of the past.
Review: “This is a fantastic and important film that excels technically and emotionally. It’s a heartwarming look at how those who were displaced are working together with the white farmers and families that now own the land.” - Amy Magnus, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)

Champion, by Måns Berthas (Sweden). Award of Merit, Speechless Shorts Professional.
Synopsis: Harsh midwinter. A frozen marriage in a remote cabin. A man from the past returns to seek revenge, and long lost feelings come alive.
Review: “Absolutely brilliant!” - Lars Johnson, (Speechless Film Fest Judge)