The Twin Cities gains another film festival this week at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. The On the Line Film Festival will have its inaugural opening tomorrow, and run through Sunday.
It's a festival that's been two years in the making, and is purely independent.
Festival founder Joe Ruiz, a native of St. Paul, decided to put the event together after a decade of running the Manhattan Film Festival. People thought he was crazy for choosing St. Paul as the host location, but he wants to be a part of his hometown's growth.
“I wanted to use it as a catalyst for the area,” he says. “To be part of the growth, but also help showcase the city to people coming in from out of town.”
He's planning to include as many people in town as he can. However, he knows there's a lot going on in the summer, and doesn't want to steal the thunder from anyone else's event or festival.
“I reached out to everybody to try to get as many people on board as possible,” he says.
So far, local businesses partnering with him for the first year of the event include Big River Pizza and Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar.
The festival will screen roughly 65 films of all lengths and genres chosen by a committee of five people all involved in the arts scene in some way. A good number of pieces are from local filmmakers. Things begin with a press and industry networking event on Wednesday at 7 p.m., and conclude with a wrap party that includes an awards show at noon on Sunday at Bedlam Theatre. There will be 15 different award categories, as well as a revenue sharing option for the filmmakers.
“We offer the filmmakers the opportunity to earn 50 percent of each ticket sale sold for their screening,” he explains, and adds it works by giving filmmakers a unique weblink for their film every time they go to promote it.
The films are each in specific categories, such as the Family Film Series, which is the first group to screen at the festival. The last film to screen will be the feature-length A Ghost & a Boy With a Box on His Head. Each film will get its own Q&A and session with the audience, and there will be various other panels with filmmakers as well.
While a lot of festivals tend to to thrive on attracting big-name actors and filmmakers, that's not the case with On the Line. Ruiz says that while there are a few well-known people in the films, it's really not about that.
“It's more of a celebration of the indie scene,” he says.