Ely Presents First-Ever End of the Road Film Festival

ELY, Minn. — From Northland to nationwide, over 35 film makers are making their way to the End of the Road Film Festival at Ely’s Historic State Theater.

When you first think of Ely, the boundary waters, wildlife and great outdoors might come to mind, but if you flip the camera… You’ll find rich arts and compelling stories, as the inaugural End of the Road Film Festival takes to the small towns, big screen.

“We received submissions from all across the country, and all across the world even,” said Festival Director Jacob White.

White, who has a vast history in film, said it was time for Ely to capitalize on the industry’s current boom.

“I saw some really interesting stuff happening in Duluth and in other places around the Midwest around independent films and film festivals.”

While End of the Road is set to premiere, it took a long path of renovations and rehab to the Historic State Theater.

“10 or 15 years ago people would talk about how the ceiling was leaking, you’d have tiles falling on your head, the chairs might collapse under your seat and that kind of thing.”

The revamp started in 2015 and white said, the theater was ready to roll by 2019.

However, Covid-19 delayed its opening date and ability to function in full.

Now post-pandemic, white said, the theater is thriving.

“To see the theater restored in the way that it is, is really exciting.”

Selecting the final 35 was no easy task, as the board had over 160 film submissions.

One question helped them decide which to cut, and which to keep.

“Would the Ely community appreciate this film?”

The festival will show films based on a range of topics, according to White.

Exploring themes like identity, community, connection, and adventure.

One in particular, Bring Her Home, sticks out to White.

“It’s a story that follows three women who are activists organizing to bring awareness and justice to missing and murdered indigenous relatives and indigenous women.”

Another thought-provoking topic set to take the screen is the movie Freshwater.

From surfers to scientists, this documentary dives into the great depths of Lake Superior.

“It’s exciting to kind of see the team discuss those films and have those conversations and ultimately vote and decide which films to keep and which films maybe did not fit the bill this year.”

Key word — this year.

White looks forward to the next few days as the film makers make their way to Ely.

& he hopes that this is not the end of the road, for End of the Road Film Festival.

The festival runs Feb. 9 – 12.

Individual tickets and weekend passes are available here.

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