Highway 61 Film Festival rolls in Oct. 14-15

Movie lovers from all over Minnesota are getting ready to settle down to a feast of films this weekend at the first ever Highway 61 Film Festival in Pine City.
The festival will feature comedies, action, horror, drama, documentary and animation in 39 short and feature-length movies over Oct. 14-15. 
Doors open at the Pine Technical College Auditorium (900 4th Street SE) at 6 p.m. Friday for the first session of films, with a late-night session to follow at Danny C’s BeachRocks (10762 Lakeview Shore Drive) at 10 p.m.
On Saturday morning at 11 a.m., another session of films begins with a family-friendly selection of movies for young and old at Pine Technical College. 
Saturday goes back to the grown-ups at the 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. film sessions, and the night will be capped off with a horror double-feature and celebration at Danny C’s BeachRocks starting at 10 p.m.
Tickets for each daytime session of films at Pine Technical College are only $5, while there is free (donation requested) admission to the late-night shows at Danny C’s BeachRocks. All funds go to the nonprofit Pine Center for the Arts.
Each session of films promises its own highlights. Some of these include: 
  • Friday night’s 6:30 p.m. session includes a film by Shane Bauer, one of the American hikers who was recently released from Iran after two years in captivity. “Songs to Enemies and Deserts” was co-directed by Bauer and David Martinez. A special message from Bauer’s mother, Pine City native Cindy Hickey, will be read before the film. 
  • Friday’s late-night session at Danny C’s BeachRocks will feature “All Over the Walls,” a documentary featured at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival. The short film “Night Surf” won directing and screenwriting honors at the MCTC Excellence Awards.
  • On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. the session includes a variety of intriguing dramas and comedies capped off by “Lambent Fuse,” the winner of the 2011 Twin Cities Film Fest for Best Minnesota Feature. 
  • On Saturday at 6:30 p.m., a series of exciting thrillers and hilarious comedies will come to an end with “Ghost from the Machine,” a psychological horror film which was recently picked up by Universal Studios to be remade into a major motion picture. 
  • Saturday’s late-night session at Danny C’s BeachRocks is a horror double-feature including “Attack of the Moon Zombies” by legendary Minnesota director Christopher R. Mihm and the horror/comedy freak-out “Potpourri.” 
For a full listing of films and their descriptions go to www.highway61filmfestival.org or visit the Highway 61 Film Festival Facebook page. 
Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, drivers and pedestrians will see the walls of Pine City come to life with photos projected by local photographers in “Pictures on Buildings.”
Come to one film session, or come to all – but don’t miss the Highway 61 Film Festival!
Read on to see more about the program and the films that will be shown.

Sen. Klobuchar back in Pine City Saturday to speak at deployment ceremony

Last week, U.S. Senator Amy Kloubuchar (DFL) was in Pine City to visit with Cindy Hickey, the mother of Shane Bauer (one of the American hikers who was detained nearly two years ago while hiking near the Iraq-Iran border).  This Memorial Day weekend, Klobuchar will return to Pine City (Saturday, May 28) to speak at a National Guard deployment ceremony for members of the First Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.  The ceremony begins at noon at the Pine County Fairgrounds in the grandstand.

The Red Bulls are mobilizing for a one–year deployment in support of “Operation New Dawn”, the drawdown phase of U.S. forces from Iraq. The Brigade, responsible for security and base management, will have its headquarters at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait working under the overall control of Army Central Command.  It will also serve as security for the ground convoy transport of troops, equipment and supplies throughout Iraq.

133 soldiers are being deployed from the Pine City guard unit.  With 2,400 soldiers being mobilized, in total, this is the second largest deployment of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II. 

Last Saturday, Governor Mark Dayton and Sen. Klobuchar spoke at a similar ceremony, at the Brigade headquarters at Historic Fort Snelling.  Other dignitaries scheduled to appear at the Pine City deployment include Congressional District 8 Congressman Chip Cravaak (R), Minnesota Senate District 8 Senator Tony Lourey (DFL), and Minesota House District 8B Representative Roger Crawford (R).

Klobuchar visits Pine City, mom of detained US hiker

KSTP reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar visited Pine City May 20 to meet with Cindy Hickey, mother of Shane Bauer, one of the American hikers who was detained nearly two years ago while hiking near the Iraq-Iran border.

Since that time, hiker Sarah Shourd (Bauer’s fiancée) was allowed to return to the U.S. last year on bail but not the two men, Bauer and Fattal.  Their families have made countless TV appearances, enlisted celebrities for help and even traveled to Tehran to keep the spotlight on the situation.   The latest tactic taken by the families: a hunger strike to show solidarity with their sons whom they beileve are also on one.

Nothing the moms have done yet has swayed the Iranian government, not after 21 months of separation.

The associated press reported that Cindy Hickey, of Pine City, said, “As family members, we’re taking a big hit and we’re getting to the bottom, financially, emotionally, physically.  We’re all suffering from this.  It’s very desperate.”

Fattal and Bauer have been held on espionage charges since July, 2009.  Both men deny the charges.    Since Shourd’s release, Iranian officials ordered her back to Tehran for the trial, but she has declined.

Reportedly, while in Pine City, Klobuchar also attended Field Day at the Pine City Elementary School.

Fast for the Hikers

Sarah Shourd, who recently visited with her future mother-in-law, Cindy Hickey, over lunch at Sprouts, downtown Pine City

It has now been almost 650 days of isolation for Shane Bauer (whose mother, Cindy Hickey, lives in the Greater Pine City area) and Josh Fattal.  The pursuit of justice is more urgent now than ever and countless people, governments and organizations continue to work tirelessly to that end through international diplomacy, media advocacy and public campaigning.  

On May 11, Shane, Josh and Sarah Shourd’s trial — which was supposed to start many times, including an unrealized court date on November 6, 2010, and finally began on February 6, 2011 — will continue.  Free the Hikers is asking supporters to join them along with Shane, Josh and Sarah’s friends in a three day fast from May 9-11.  Sarah highlights the symbolic significance of fasting for the three of them:

“Shane, Josh and I resorted to hunger striking several times in prison to try and gain access to our families and lawyer. Thanks to everyone who’s doing this,” she said.

They are encouraging people to fast in whatever way they are able to – from juice fasts to giving up one significant food or drink item.  Please go to their blog for more information and a link to RSVP and invite your friends via their facebook page.

Also, last week, Shane and Josh’s supporters performed a theatre piece at the UN Plaza in San Francisco to highlight the utter injustice of almost two years in prison for no crime and the deplorable conditions Josh and Shane are held under.  They called it “Dimensions of Detainment” and you can it view here

Sarah’s Mom, Nora, participated in the performance.  She said, “To put ourselves in Shane and Josh’s shoes brought us closer to them in spirit but at the same time reminded us how isolated and physically remote from us they are. Shane and Josh have had no phone calls, no pens and paper, no access to their lawyer and no communication with the outside world for over five months.”

“Please help us spread this video far and wide,” Shourd said.  “We hope it will be a strong educational tool we can all use in our advocacy for Josh and Shane.  If you are moved by the video, you may want to consider organizing and performing a similar action with your local support group and posting it on our blog.  There ‘s no limit to the ways we can fight this injustice.  Thank you for standing by us, Josh and Shane.”

Hope Vigil this Sunday


Community support shines through


To see WCCO’s coverage of the vigil, click here.

“100 Days Hope Vigil” held in Pine City


Vigils are being organized around the world–including in Pine City–on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, to mark 100 days of Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal’s detention in Iran.  Bauer’s mother, Cindy Hickey, lives in the Greater Pine City area.

As the  hikers continue to be held, friends and supporters of Bauer and the other hikers will gather in Robinson Park to send them light, strength and spirit with a unified voice.  The vigil will feature music and a short, candle-lit stroll through the downtown area.  The event is also a call on Iranian authorities to release the hikers back to their families.  At the vigil, supporters will be encouraged to send letters to the Bauer in Evin Prison, Tehran, Iran.  For more information, click here.