The Mission Creek show will go on, but later
Mission Creek Festival's 15th year will go on, but not as originally planned.
Saturday morning, The Englert Theatre announced that the festival, originally scheduled for early April, will instead be held Sept. 17 - 19. The festival will occur in tandem with the first year of FilmScene's new Refocus Film Festival.
"The pandemic definitely shook our entire cultural calendar upside down, much as it has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of so many Americans," noted Andre Perry, the theater's executive director, in a joint release from The Englert and FilmScene. "While there is still a chance the public health situation could prevent us from launching these events, even in September, as cultural organizations we think it's important to project hope: a goal for community healing through the arts."
It was announced in mid-March that the festival would be delayed due to coronavirus concerns, a decision that has proven prudent as more stringent social distancing measures continue to be enacted.
Not wanting to leave art lovers high and dry, though, The Englert Theatre released a digital mini-series titled Mission Creek Underground on its Youtube channel last week to showcase local talent in literature and music.
The new September date for Mission Creek proper will be smaller, roughly 50 - 75% of the size originally scheduled by Perry's current estimate.
The weekend will also introduce film as a new medium to the traditional music/literature festival, though current plans suggest the two events will be ticketed separately.
Inaugurating the Refocus Film Festival has been an advertised part of the FilmScene/Englert Grow Strengthen Evolve capital campaign. The film festival, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 18 - 20, is arguably the perfect fit for a city of literature as it is meant to showcase film adaptations of various works. The adaptations won't limit themselves to just book adaptations.
As an example of a film not based on a short story or novel FilmScene programming director, Rebecca Fons pointed toward "Zola," an A24 production which premiered at Sundance in January and is based on a 2015 Twitter thread.
"For the film lineup, the goal is to present 10 to 15 films," said Fons. "We anticipate that the bulk of those films will be unknown films that people won’t recognize but celebrate that art of adaptation.”
FilmScene, Iowa City's non-profit movie theater recently announced that — in light of the developing COVID-19 pandemic — it will remain closed indefinitely. However, planning for the Refocus Film Festival continues.
"The name Refocus Film Festival will be familiar to some," reads the aforementioned release. "The original Refocus began in 1965 at the University of Iowa and continued until 1979, making it a prominent American film festival at the time hosting numerous special guests including Roger Ebert, Robert Altman, Dede Allen and a young Robert Redford, before he became the face of the Sundance Film Festival."
Sherburne doesn't remember precisely when he heard about that original festival, but he has spoken with FilmScene patrons who fondly remember it. On top of that, he's been hoping since day one to get an event of this sort rolling in Iowa City, an area he sees as perfect for a film festival.
“It's really kind of amazing to look at what that festival was at a time where there weren’t really that many prominent American film festivals," he said. "It was something that was really ahead of its time. Iowa City has always had a role in film culture in this country more so than people really realize.”
Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Press-Citizen. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (319)-688-4247, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet