Seven years ago a new venture called Speechless Film Festival was created by the Media Arts faculty and staff at Bethany Lutheran College. From early on, the event was a success while attracting numerous filmmakers from around the globe.
And southern Minnesota embraced the event with enthusiasm. Numerous community sponsors, venues, and volunteers helped the participating filmmakers by giving to them a passionate, supportive audience to view their art. Over the years, the organizers in the Media Arts Department staged a number of host venues (including last year’s COVID-induced livestream event) while assembling eight annual programs with films that surprised, amused, and amazed.
But the pandemic and the economics of the event are a tricky road to navigate in these uncertain times, and after considerable deliberation the organizing committee made the difficult decision to end the event.
Professor Kurt Paulsen (Media Arts) explained. “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to discontinue the Speechless Film Festival. The mission of Speechless has always been deeply tied to education, and to that end we believe it is time to redirect our efforts to other initiatives.
“When we launched this event in 2013, we were immediately thrilled with our newfound connections to a great many visual storytellers from all over the world. We are exceedingly grateful to those who have made this festival possible by generously volunteering their time and financial support.”
Paulsen is hopeful that the spirt of Speechless will carry forward with new initiatives in the Mankato community.
“It is our hope that we, as a community, find sustainable ways to support independent film and the communal screening experience. We have known Speechless to be a truly formative event with the power to inspire, direct, and facilitate personal growth. The (visual) voices that fueled this fire are still making things that deserve to be seen.”
Paulsen says the Media Arts Department will focus their efforts on new ways to bring the film and visual storytelling industry to the campus and into the classroom.