Dear Editor:

You are invited. In fact, everyone in the Driftless Region is invited to attend the 2017 Oneota Film Festival. This is the eighth annual OFF and promises to be an exciting one — with community conversations about Stories That Matter. 

The topics covered by the 50-plus films (mostly documentaries) being shown March 9-12 include adventure and religion, human rights and history, food and health, education and autism, art and cultures. Life on earth. 

You will visit other parts of the world, parts of our country that you may not have seen before, and meet people who are dealing with stories that matter to them and to you. There is a complete list of film descriptions on the website: More than anything, OFF is a community event.

I am especially excited about several events that will be of interest to many of your readers. First, the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County will host a panel discussion following the screening of We the People 2.0 on Sunday afternoon, March 12. This film will spark many ideas and conversations.

The second event that will involve discussions with the community is the screening of Portrait of a Garden, a film from the Nederlands, at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, March 10. This film is being underwritten by the Seed Savers Exchange. SSE Orchard Manager Dan Bussey will introduce the film and lead a Q & A session following this beautiful, contemplative film.

To top off a wonderful weekend, several filmmakers will be present for the showing of their films throughout the weekend. We’ll formally meet them at the Filmmakers’ Reception on Saturday night, March 11, at 7 p.m. Awards for submitted films will be awarded and an Iowa Film, Whiskey Cookers: The Amazing True Story of the Templeton Rye Bootleggers, will be shown.

So the Festival is not just about sitting in a darkened room in a comfortable seat, watching films. It is also about talking about the films you see with filmmakers and with your friends and neighbors (your community). I hope to talk with you there.

Nancy Sojka, Board

President, Oneota Film Festival