Speechless Film Festival is a 2-day multimedia event that showcases local and international artists. The unique mission of our festival is to foster cross-cultural engagement through the celebration of visual storytelling, a creative endeavor rooted deeply in the history of cinema. Visual storytelling transcends a wide variety of film genres including documentary, animation, drama, experimental, etc. Speechless is the first film festival in the region to showcase an ambitious and diverse program of films, which provides a unique arts experience and valuable educational opportunity for students to connect with visiting speakers and filmmakers. Speechless was created in 2013 and is presented by Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota.
Though visual storytelling was once widely acknowledged as the foundation of the field, it has since lost focus and attention as more films rely on dialogue as the primary storytelling agent. Speechless notably celebrates visual storytelling across several genres and cultures, which exposes beautiful connections and juxtapositions between films revealing both similar and opposing experiences and viewpoints. This allows our local artists to consider their work in the global context—which both questions boundaries and reveals new storytelling techniques.
Because our festival’s core leadership team consists of college staff and faculty, we are a festival that cares deeply about education. It is absolutely imperative that we provide a diverse cultural experience and an authentic look into independent cinema to a region that is otherwise geographically isolated from film and art centers. We strive to create a truly formative event with the power to inspire, change, direct, and facilitate the growth of students in particular. We believe the effects of this exposure are only just being observed—with students learning to build robust networks, connect with others, and make the type of work that deserves to be seen. This is achieved in large part by our sincere interest in the voices of our filmmakers. We have made speaking and panel engagements a priority and have increased the number of filmmakers that are accommodated each year.
Speechless Film Festival is the only international, independent film festival in or around Mankato, which is the 2nd fastest growing community in Greater Minnesota and the 4th largest city in Minnesota outside of the metro area. The festival receives considerable support from community sponsors, and the jury consists of area professors, arts administrators, and production leaders. Beginning in 2017, the fest’s primary screening venue is the Mankato Civic Center.
Our visitors consistently praise the quality of our programming and enthusiasm of our community. We have been told repeatedly that our unique mission, sincere interest in filmmakers, and attention to detail result in a truly inspiring and memorable festival event.