The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 16, 2014

BLC's Speechless Film Festival catering to local audience this year

BLC's Speechless Film Festival catering to local audience this year

“Draw, Don't Speak” is a short film about an introverted high school boy who starts to develop a crush when one of his drawings makes its way into the hands of a classmate.

One of the judges of the Speechless Film Festival, Minnesota State University English Professor Donna Casella, watched it numerous times, writing that she had a smile on her face the entire time.

“I loved this little film,” she wrote.

The 10-minute film was created by Griffin Huber, and it won in the student division of the Narrative category at this year's film festival, to be held Thursday through Saturday in downtown Mankato.

And that's just one poignant film among dozens to be showcased in the old Maverick 4 Theatres location in Mankato Place.

“Still,” the winner in the professional division of the Narrative category, is a 17-minute short by William Lu that uses dance movement as dialogue, telling the story of a “relationship stuck in a cycle of what seems to be another mundane day.”

In the Animation/Experimental category, “Displacements,” by Manuel Alvarez Diestro, won in the professional division with a nine-minute film that focuses on Hong Kong's dense population and a world in which the living coexist with the dead. The student winner in that category, Prasad Narse, created a five-minute film called “I M Possible,” which follows a basketball star who spent a year in a wheelchair after a terrible accident.

Besides just being well-made films that will be among those to receive trophies and cash prizes, the above all having something important in common when it comes to entrance into the Speechless Film Festival: They focus on visual storytelling rather than relying on dialogue, said Kurt Paulsen, assistant professor of media arts at Bethany Lutheran College.

Despite the moniker “Speechless,” the films don't have to be silent. When Paulsen was first dreaming up the concept before the first year of the festival last year, he wanted to host a film festival that filled a niche in the heavily populated festival circuit. And no one seemed to be doing films that placed heavy emphasis on visual presentation.

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