Nonprofit Spotlight: Sioux City International Film Festival

The Sioux City International Film Festival is the longest running, short-film festival in Iowa. Now in its 17th year, the festival has become an event recognized for bringing quality films from all over the world to the area. Hosted at the Promenade Cinema 14 in two theaters (with plush seating), festival attendees can select a genre (choose from comedy, documentary, drama, sci-fi/fantasy, or horror/thriller) and watch 8-10 short films adding up to two-hours’ worth of inventive, unique, and engaging entertainment. Past festivals have included Oscar nominated films along with work from up-and-coming filmmakers, some of whom attend the event.

This year’s festival theme is Music in Film and will feature events and workshops showcasing this unique aspect of the industry. Thursday, August 29 kicks off the festival when we open the doors at 5:00 p.m. to a free selection of films from regional artists. At 7:30 p.m., we show the only feature-length film of the festival, Score, directed by Matt Schrader. This award-winning documentary features some of the most influential names in film music, including Quincy Jones, Randy Newman, and James Cameron. After the film, director Matt Schrader will be in-person to answer questions from the audience. 

Our first workshop presenter at the festival is Sioux City native, Jordan Dykstra, a “Brooklyn-based violist and composer exploring the performer-composer-listener relationship through the incorporation of conceptual, graphic, and text-based elements” ( Dykstra will present a workshop on Friday, September 30 at 6pm for those interested in learning more about his work, with a focus on the differences between collaborative and solo composing. Most recently, Dykstra worked as a composer for Frontline

The second workshop presenter is Bri Holland, a “songwriter, music producer, audio engineer, singer, and vocal production specialist based in Los Angeles, CA” ( Holland’s hands-on workshop will explore vocal processing, from recording through mixing, for live-action and animated film music on Saturday, October 1 at 11am. Most recently, Holland has worked on the films tick, tick…Boom!, Vivo, and Dear Evan Hansen

Additionally, several filmmakers whose work was selected for the festival will be in-person and will participate in a Filmmakers RoundTable Q&A session on Saturday, October 1 at 3pm. 

Selected films will begin showing on Friday, September 30 at noon with alternating start times in two separate theaters (for example, one block will run from 12-2 and another from 1-3). A full schedule will be available on the website at 

Here’s where we need help from the audience: each block of film will have a “premiere” and an “encore” showing. See as many as you like, but if you want your voice heard, we are inviting you to help us choose Audience Favorite awards for each category by attending the premiere blocks and voting for your favorite. If you love sci-fi/fantasy, make sure you come to that first showing of films, watch them carefully, then cast your vote for your favorite. If you want to do the same for documentaries, go right ahead! In for comedies, too? Great!! On Saturday night at 7:00pm, come to the awards ceremony where we present your Audience Favorite awards and reveal the juried award winners from each category. At this event, you will get another chance to help us pick Your Top Film from all the juried winners! As a reminder, many of the filmmakers will be in the audience with you, so you could see the winners get their awards live!

Here are some details about how to get tickets (go to to purchase online):

  • Free: All workshops and the Filmmakers RoundTable 
  • Free: The Regional Film block on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 5pm
  • $5.00: The kick-off documentary, Score, on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7:30pm (200 tickets available)
  • $10.00: Single Screening Ticket (entry to one block of films)
  • $25.00: Day Pass (entry to all films on one day)
  • $50.00: All Festival Pass (entry to all films for the entire festival)
  • $100.00: VIP Pass (entry to all films, two VIP after-parties, the Rick Mullin Filmmaker’s Lounge, and a Friday night trolley ride • 25 passes available)

Major funding for SCIFF programs comes from Humanities Iowa. Major sponsors include Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the City of Sioux City, and Produce Iowa. Additional sponsors include Warrior Hotel, State Steel, Jolly Time Pop Corn, Bluestem Fund, RTI, Downtown Partners, Great West Casualty Company, and Wayne State College.

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