It’s show time in Winona

A not quite frozen river

A bubbling stream in Winona even in winter

The somewhat aptly named Frozen River Film Festival starts Wednesday, and I’m excited to see who exactly will be following the frozen river road to Winona. The frozen river road is, of course, Highway 61, and in no way similar to the yellow brick road,  which reportedly has flying monkeys.

 No flying monkeys in this little corner of Minnesota, but there is a heck of a big frozen river right outside, and though we do have a lot of great trails for winter sports it seems like an awfully good time to sit inside and watch a movie. Or 50. No kidding – I read today that Frozen River Film Festival will have 50 films showing over the next five days, it’s like movie night on steroids. Films are coming from all over the world. I wonder if we will someday have people from all over the world too. Right here in Winona. It’s pretty enough, even in January – I hope they come.

The one I’m most excited to see is Big River Man – a full length documentary about Martin Strel and his Fountain City sidekick Matt Mohlke. I interviewed Matt a few weeks ago for a newspaper story about the movie, and in case you missed it, here’s how it goes:

Martin is a lunatic. And an extreme swimmer. He swam most of the world’s monstrous rivers, including the Mississippi, which is how he met Matt Mohlke. So Martin decides to swim the Amazon River and asks Matt to be his navigator – the guy who sits in the front of the boat and keeps snakes from biting Martin and such. And they have to have armed guards with them all the time because of pirates. And they all get dysentery. Oh yeah, and Martin drinks two bottles of wine a day, some of it while he’s swimming, and he thinks he’s communicating with piranhas and animals and such, and that he can travel through space and time… like I said, pretty much a lunatic. But he’s the kind of lunatic who is doing some pretty incredible things and doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, and this movie sounds like an awful lot of fun. As Matt put it, “He’s the last superhero in the world. He’s a fat 53-year-old alcoholic, but that’s the way the world works these days.” Man, what a great quote.

Besides films, Frozen River has speakers and workshops and kids stuff included in the ticket, along with an enormous Fringe Festival roster that sounds as big as the festival itself. A pass for the whole shebang is $50 – a dollar a movie. Even my grandmother would be jealous.

Time to get some popcorn cooking Winona… it’s movie time~

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