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First “End of the Road Film Festival” kicks off on Feb. 9 at Ely State Theater

Ely Echo - Staff Photo - Create Article

by Parker Loew

The End of the Road Film Festival will host hundreds of independent filmmakers in Ely next month.

The festival aims to bring citizens in Ely and the surrounding area in contact with the film community and allow filmmakers to showcase their work.

The festival was founded by Jacob White, an Ely local. While going to film school in New York, he guided canoe trips for the boy scouts of America in the BWCA during his summers off and fell in love with the area. He later moved to Ely in 2018.

Having attended a few film festivals in Duluth and seeing how close it brought the community together, White became inspired to give Ely its own.

Founding and hosting a film festival is not cheap. White had to write many grants to try and secure funding. With the help of a few local sponsors and the grants he wrote, White secured the funding necessary to have the film festival.

Part of the funding that White and his team have received will be allocated to supporting local youth to attend the festival.

White is currently working with schools in the area to give free tickets to students to attend on Friday and are trying to get the schools to make a field trip out of it.

The festival will take place at the Ely’s Historic State Theater and the Greenstone Theater Feb. 9-12 and display nearly 100  films with themes such as food, identity, music, dance, crafts, nature, comedy, horror and nonfiction. Jacob and his team received over 160 film submissions but needed to narrow down the selection to fit in a four-day window.

If you were hoping to see Jaws or Avatar, you are coming to the wrong place, as there will be no blockbusters at this festival.

All but two of the films at the festival have upcoming distribution deals. This means that many films at the festival have never screened in theaters.

Film festivals like this allow small independent filmmakers to make a name for themselves and help get distribution deals.

Many of the films at this festival will be avant-garde and expose the audience to narratives and ideas they don’t usually encounter at movie theaters.

There will be a competition for best cinematography and best overall film. There will also be an audience choice award for the festival.

The four-day pass will cost $75. Included with the passes are 34 different screening events, a live concert on Saturday night, workshops from film organizations in Minnesota, and a free T-shirt and cup.

If you can’t go to all four days of the festival, you can buy tickets for individual screenings starting at $10 (

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