The stars align as Fargo Film Festival opens this week

Highlights include Hollywood stars and local filmmakers.

A scene from Mike Scholtz's documentary, "Iron Opera."

Fargo — The Fargo Film Festival will kick off Tuesday, March 21, and screen more than 70 movies over five days, ranging from animation shorts to narrative features, experimental films and a range of documentaries.

Just as engaging as some of the films themselves are the filmmakers discussing their work.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s events.


7 p.m., Tuesday

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Jesselyn Silva stars in "JessZilla."

The Festival’s first heavy hitter is this Best Documentary Feature about a young female boxer, Jesselyn Silva, moving up in the ranks toward her goal of fighting on the U.S. Olympic team. She’s knocked back by a potentially devastating diagnosis, only to show off her fighting spirit. Director Emily Sheskin and producer Ben Kainz will discuss the making of the film.


“AJ Goes to the Dog Park: Part One”

7:45 p.m., Wednesday

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A scene from "AJ Goes to the Dog Park" by Fargo native Toby Jones.

Fargo native Toby Jones returns home with his short comedy about a man who goes to great lengths to bring back his favorite dog park. Shot in Fargo, the film features local actors J.J. Gordon and Crystal Cossette Knight. This short is featured in Wednesday night’s comedy short showcase.

“The Voice Actress”

3:25 p.m., Thursday and 10:05 a.m., Saturday

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A scene from the short film "The Voice Actress."

Actors are known to dig deep for their roles, but Japanese voice actress Kingyo has the ability to see clearly into the soul of all things, animate and inanimate, giving her an advantage while recording. This Japanese film won the Tom Brandau Award for Best Narrative Short Film.

"Big Crow"

4:05 p.m., Thursday

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A scene from the documentary "Big Crow," winner of the Prairie Spirit Award.

Director Kris Kaczor looks at the legacy of SuAnne Big Crow, who led her Pine Ridge High School high school team to a state title and earned the Miss Basketball Award in 1992. She died in a car crash on her way to accept the honor. Thirty years later she’s still making an impact on her community and culture. This film was the winner of the Prairie Spirit Award and Documentary Feature Honorable Mention.

“Iron Opera”

7 p.m., Thursday

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Steve Solkela stars in the documentary "Iron Opera."

Fargo Film Festival favorite and Moorhead native Mike Scholtz returns with another off-beat regional documentary, this time looking at what goes into staging an opera on Minnesota's Iron Range. One of the film’s star singers, Steve Solkela, will take the stage and play the accordion with his musical alter-ego, Steve’s Overpopulated One-Man Band.


“The Thief Collector”

1:30 p.m., Friday

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Glenn Howerton stars in the comic documentary "The Thief Collector."

Glenn Howerton (“It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) stars in over-the-top reenactments and director Allison Otto mixes in real interviews for a quirky tale of an art heist by a seemingly normal couple who display their criminally obtained objects of attraction in their home.

An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes

7 p.m., Friday

Actor Cary Elwes.
Contributed / Miranda Penn Turin

The star of “The Princess Bride” hosts a screening of the 1987 romantic comedy and discusses the making of the movie and other tales from his long career in Hollywood. Tickets to this event are sold out.

An Evening with Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel

7 p.m., Saturday

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Mike Flanagan, writer/director of “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass,” will close out this year's Fargo Film Festival

Twelve years after making his Fargo Film Fest debut with “Absentia,” Mike Flanagan returns to talk about the movies and series he’s made with his collaborator wife, including “the Haunting of Hill House,” “The Haunting of Bly Manor” and “Midnight Mass.” Tickets are $25 and $35 for this special event.

If you go

What: Fargo Film Festival


When: Tuesday - Saturday

Where: Fargo Theatre

Info: Ticket packages range from $5 to $150, but do not include special events Friday and Saturday night.

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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