Luther College to host first Oneota Film Festival Jan. 22-23

Nov. 2, 2009

Luther College will be the site of the first Oneota Film Festival, Jan. 22-23, as the college hosts the showing of several nationally and internationally acclaimed sustainability-themed films as the focal point of a community discussion of local sustainability issues including food, energy, economies and life choices.

Festival organizers say films under consideration for the festival include “Food, Inc.,” “The Garden,” “The Seed Hunter,” “American Outrage,” “The Story of Stuff” and “FLOW,” all of which have won recognition for their perspective on sustainability topics. There will also be showings of films about adventure sports, ecotourism films, comedies, shorts, and some locally produced films.

The films are intended to generate discussion of local initiatives related to sustainability issues and an overall look at the community’s potential for developing and maintaining a more independent and sustainable local economy. Festival organizers are planning 10-15 sets of films and panel discussions with filmmakers and other specialists and experts on sustainability topics.

The festival will include a Saturday lunch and a concluding celebration and music event Saturday night.  Organizers say additional community-wide events at Decorah locations are in the planning stages.

Tentative plans call for selling festival passes and passes to specific film “sets” to encourage participation and attendance by as many regional community members as possible.  Luther is making arrangements for its students to attend the films and discussions.

Kyrl Henderson of Decorah, executive director of the festival, states that several local businesses, forms and organizations have committed to sponsor or participate in the festival, including Seed Savers Exchange; the Oneota Community Food Cooperative; Creative Services; Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty and Cowie, PLC; the Decorah Regional Arts Council;and the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  He said Decorah Newspapers and KDEC Radio have signed on as media partners.

“Our hope is also that we can broaden the definition of sustainability and include more voices in the discussion” said Henderson. “It’s important for all of us to share a vision of a sustainable local economy based on helping each other in positive ways. 

“It’s about more than buying locally grown foods, although that is important,” he said. “It’s about gradually changing our habits when buying goods and services so we can be more aware of the cost, rather than just always thinking about the price.”

“We’re excited to be part of a new event that can carry Luther’s commitment to sustainability into the wider community, and use our facilities and energy to share the message” said Dan Bellrichard, Luther College sustainability coordinator.

The festival committee has announced that Ruth Jenkins of Decorah will serve as director of the festival. 

“The Oneota Film Festival is an ambitious event, and the festival committee is fortunate to have Ruth’s organizational skills and energy,” said Rob Larson, executive director of communications and marketing at Luther.

Oneota Film Festival is currently accepting additional sponsorships and program advertisers.  Donations or sponsorships will be tax deductible through Decorah Regional Arts Council, fiscal agent for the festival. 

Persons or organizations interested in a sponsoring or presenting a film or a post-film discussions should contact Ruth Jenkins via email at [email protected] or by phone at (319) 504-5128.

Film submissions are also being accepted. For information, contact Kristin Torresdal at the Decorah Public Library, phone (563) 382-3717 or email [email protected].

Additional information about sponsorships and the film festival is available at

Oneota Film Festival