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This past weekend was the eleventh annual Frozen River Film Festival here in Winona. The festival’s mission statement reads, “The Frozen River Film Festival offers documentary films and programming that engage, educate and activate our community to become involved in the world.” This festival allows filmmakers from Minnesota and all over the world to come together and show off their productions to the community.

I remember visiting Winona State at this time last year and seeing a large banner on campus advertising this event. Little did I know I would be attending this festival one year later and afterwards writing a blog about how I was blown away by the film I saw.


Unfortunately, I was only able to see one film this weekend; however, I could not have picked a better one to attend. The film I watched was titled Landfill Harmonic. The Paraguayan musical group called the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura has found a unique way to bring hope to the people of their country. They started by making instruments out of garbage, and soon became recognized all across the world after their story went viral.

Landfill Harmonic was a beautiful film of innovation and restoration. I admire the people of Paraguay for their creativity and ability to take something that the rest of the world views as trash and turn it into an intricate work of art. The sound that came from the Recycled Orchestra was breathtaking. However, the impact music has made on the families in Paraguay and the hope it has brought them was even greater. The Frozen River Film Festival website describes the film as “a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.”


Sometimes it is crazy to look back on life and reflect on where we used to be. As I attended the Frozen River Film Festival this weekend, I remembered being a high school senior that had just been admitted to Winona State and filled with fear as to what the future may hold. Likewise, the people of Paraguay never knew what the next day, month, or year would hold. Thankfully, both of our stories turned out to be way better than anything we could have hoped or dreamed of.

I never thought I would ever use the skills I learned in a simple videography class my senior year of high school after I graduated. Today I am so happy to say that I have met my closest friends here at Winona State through serving on the videography team for my campus ministry, Chi Alpha. In the same way, the Recycled Orchestra never would have thought that playing instruments made of trash would one day take them on tours all over the world and turn into a story that has inspired thousands.

It is incredible how even trash can become a treasure with creativity and imagination. Likewise, the Frozen River Film Festival is a great display of ingenuity and has rightfully become a WSU treasure.

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Erin Kloepping

Erin is a Communications major with an emphasis in Leadership and Advocacy who is graduating in 2019. She is from Brodhead, WI and her interests include videography and foreign mission trips.