On an idyllic crossroads in rural Minnesota, you’ll find a hundred-year-old barn that’s home to a homey and eclectic film festival.
The Free Range Film Festival is the barn’s raison d’être (since the farm closed, anyway). The documentary-heavy festival screens films from around the world, with an emphasis on Minnesota filmmakers and unusual subject matter.
Past films screened have covered topics like competitive jigsaw puzzling, erotic pirate music videos, Japanese pro wrestling, goat testicle implants, puppet violence, celebrity death pools, cereal box lore, modern blacksmithing, Chinese little people, and Ugandan LGBTQ rights.
The three-story barn, built in 1916, was first used for horses, then turned into a dairy farm in the 1960s. It was abandoned for 16 years before its purchase and resurrection by the Free Range organizers. The main loft movie screen and speakers were leftovers of the Cinema 8, a closed theater in nearby Hermantown. The traditional theater seating in the main room was rescued from Duluth’s NorShor Theatre following its ill-conceived (and doomed) foray as a strip club in the mid-’00s.
The barn also features a camera obscura room, community events, poetry readings, interactive art shows, and concerts, notably kicking off the Barnstormer 4 Tour in 2011, headlined by Sondre Lerche.
Know Before You Go
The Free Range Barn is located near the intersection of County Road 1 and County Road 4 just outside of Wrenshall, MN. Visitors take note—the barn is not open to the public outside of events, so check their website for details. The Free Range Film Festival takes place the last weekend of every June.
Though the festival is not Academy-Award qualifying, participating filmmakers receive a swag bag full of organic produce from the nearby farm.