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Puzzling theme rises from local film festival

A farm fresh alternative to stale cinema returns for an 11th season in the big old barn in Wrenshall tonight at 7 p.m. The fun continues at 2 p.m. Saturday at the barn, 909 County Road 4. The Free Range Film Festival has been a cult favorite in the Northland since it started screening films in 2003 and this year it continues its successful mix of local premieres and international standouts.

“I love that our lineup is always really eclectic,” said organizer Annie Dugan. “It means there will always be something that will delight as well as challenge our audiences and I feel like that’s what film is meant to do.” This year’s lineup includes animated shorts, documentaries and a full-length narrative feature.

While still maintaining the diverse mix of voices, a unique sub-theme has emerged in this year’s schedule.

“For some reason this is the year of the jigsaw puzzle” Dugan said. The festival will open with a documentary by local filmmaker Mike Scholtz that follows competitive jigsaw puzzling. The movie “Wicker Kittens” was a festival favorite at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and will make its local premiere tonight. Local band Portrait of a Drowned Man did the score for the film and will play during the festival’s intermission.

The theme continues Saturday afternoon with a full-length feature narrative, “Arlo & Julie” in which a jigsaw puzzle plays a major role.

“We figured it had become the theme, so why not go whole hog and throw in a puzzle swap as well,” Dugan said. Festival goers are invited to bring puzzles to share and trade Friday night during the intermission.

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