Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eight Minutes with Richard Hansen and the DuSu Film Festival

It’s certainly exciting how much percolation is taking place here in the music and arts scene, including theater and dance. In the realm of film we also have something very special going on, Duluth Superior Film Festival which kicks off this week. If you can be part of it, it will be time and money well invested. This year the price for an all-access pass is only $20, an astounding value considering all that is being offered in film and music.

A principle force behind the DuSu Film Festival is Richard Hansen, a Duluth newbie who has fallen in love with the town and all it offers. 

EN: What’s your title and role with Sound Unseen and the Duluth Superior Film Festival?
Richard Hansen: I am the Director and Founder of The Duluth Superior Film Festival. Up until about 2 months ago I was Director of Sound Unseen-Minneapolis and Sound Unseen International Duluth. I have resigned my position with Sound Unseen and have renamed Sound Unseen International Duluth to The Duluth Superior Film Festival.
EN: How did you become interested in film?
RH: I made a short VHS Video in a Comm Arts class in high school which won second place in the WI State HS Video Competition. Never thinking that anyone could actually find a job working with film, I started college looking for a business degree, which became a BA in Communication and Political Science. Post college, I worked for the Clinton Campaign and kicked around until I landed in Minneapolis where I became the Film Curator at Red Eye Collaboration. I discovered The U Film Society, then MN Film Arts and The Minneapolis St. Paul Film Festival, started working for those organizations... learned and connected my way into becoming the Director of Sound Unseen in 2007. I started Sound Unseen International Duluth in 2010 and now The Duluth Superior Film Festival for the coming spring of 2012.

EN: How does film differ from other forms of art and art making?
RH: It's tricky for me to say because I've never really considered myself an artist. I've always been the Arts Administrator guy. Administrating art feels pretty similar to me across the board.  
When I hear artists and filmmakers discuss this, they usually say the collaborative effort required to make films is significantly different from making 'traditional' (I'm not even sure what that means, really) art. I hang around enough artists and filmmakers to know that's probably true.

EN: What prompted you to link arms with these other young men to form the PROVE Collective?  And what is your title in the group?
RH: I banged around art galleries for fun while living in Minneapolis, and had quite a few gallery owners as friends. When I moved to Duluth I wanted to see if there was that type of arts vibe around and I wanted to include more art into the Film/Music/Art slogan of the film festival. Right before last year's festival I met Steve Read who invited me to come to the European Bakery art shows.  I was really impressed with the level of organization of this pop-up exhibition, but more importantly was blown away by the quality of the work.  Steve and I just stayed in touch, I met all the other guys, Steve found the space, we concluded to take a shot at this gallery thing, we made the presentation to The Sons Of Norway Board Of Directors, they bit, we handed over some rent and started fixing the place up.  

Again, I am the group's Administrator, as I cannot make art nor know how to use a radial arm saw... but my title is Co-Founder with Steve Read, Nick Monson, Anthony Zappa, and Justin Iverson.

EN: I believe this is your third year for the Film Festival. What prompted you to change the name? 
RH: If you count the first two years of Sound Unseen, then yes, this is the 3rd year. Changing the name came as a result of some very solid feedback from friends and people I respect who told me there was a bit of a 'Minneapolis coming up to Duluth to show us how to have fun' vibe around Sound Unseen. After moving here, I completely understand this sentiment and the level of pride the Twin Ports has in its own music and art scene. I hated feeling like a carpetbagger, so it became a bit of a no-brainer to name the event after the region.  Not only does it give the festival a regional pride, but it also pays tribute to what's happening here.  

King Kurling was billed as best Norwegian comedy of the year.
EN: What’s on the docket for this year?
RH: Part of changing the name of the festival was also to put some of the focus on films that are made right around the region.  Just about every film will have some sort of regional influence to it. The great part about it is that there was so much to choose from.  There are a half a dozen films that are working their way around the film festival circuit and having tremendous success that have been made in MN or WI.  I have 2 MN-made World Premieres, a pair of archived films from internationally celebrated filmmaker John Hanson (Wildrose & Northern Lights) who makes his home in Bayfield, WI as well as some fun stuff shot in the area from the recent past. We still have our slate of international festival hits... most notably our Opening Night Film-KING CURLING, and a great line up of groovy music acts at Duluth Tycoons, but it's nice to put the focus of DSFF on the filmmakers who do their work right in our backyard.
EN: For more information about the film festival and how to get tickets, visit:
Hope to see you at some of the events.

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