News Column

Snake Alley Festival of Film is coming

May 5, 2013


May 05--Now that the second annual Snake Alley Festival of Film is a month away, the anticipation is starting to build.

Burlington filmmaker Lonnie Schuyler achieved his dream of hosting a local film festival last year when he put together the first Snake Alley Festival of Film -- a three-day festival consisting of short films from around the world. The festival was the first major event to take place inside the recently refurbished Capitol Theater and attracted about 300 visitors.

Schuyler is expecting this year's festival to be twice as big. He received twice as many film submissions -- more than 300 -- and that pile of movies has been narrowed to about 80 that will be shown during the festival. Those films came from as far away as Australia, Germany, England and nearly every corner of the United States -- including five films from Iowa. One of those films is from Burlington resident Russ Fry.

"It's definitely a lot more work than last year," Schuyler said. "Last year, I was calling people, saying, 'Please, submit your film.' I didn't have to do that this year. I didn't expect it to grow so fast."

Those 80-plus films range from 45 minutes to one minute long and, much like last year, will be shown in two-hour blocks starting at 2 p.m. and running until 10 p.m. each day of the festival, except the last day, when the movies wrap up at 8 p.m.

That's 22 hours of movies, and just about every genre imaginable will be represented.

"We had really great films last year that were top of the line, and we have equally great films this year. We just have more," Schuyler said. "Last year, people would see two or three movies in a block that stood out. This year, the entire block will stand out."

A panel of about 20 local judges have been screening films this past week, picking the cream of the crop that will be recognized during the awards ceremony on the last night of the festival. Since the drama category has the most submissions, the judging likely will continue into tonight.

"It's a broad category," Schuyler said.

The judges assign each film a number from 1 to 10 and then discuss and argue their way past any ties. Awards will be given out for Best Dramedy (a combination of drama and comedy), Best Drama, Best Horror, Best Animated, Best Sci-fi, Best Comedy, Best Student Film, Best Documentary and Best Iowa Made Film.

"It's a pretty wide dispersal. You would think most of the films come from L.A. (Los Angeles), but they're from all over. We got films from New York, Michigan, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin," Schuyler said.

The three-day film festival will start June 6 and continue through June 8.

There's more to the event than movies, though. There will be a post-screening party at Moto's Public House at 10 p.m. June 6, and a filmmaker's lunch at Bistro 322 at 11 a.m. June 7. That will be followed by a post-screening party later that night at 10 p.m. at The Drake. The final day of the festival June 8 will be capped by a Red Carpet Party at 8 p.m. at the Capitol Theater, followed by the awards ceremony at 9 p.m. and a post-screening party at 10 p.m. at The Washington.

Tickets go on sale Friday and will cost $7 for a two-hour block of film, $20 for a day pass and $45 for a weekend pass. The weekend pass includes admission to the awards ceremony and all the after parties. Children can get in for free on the final day of the festival.

To buy tickets, call the Capitol Theater at (319) 237-1099 and leave a message if no one is available. You also can pick up tickets at the box office at the Capitol Theater between 2 and 5 p.m. or order tickets through


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