How to film fest: Your at-a-glance guide to Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

Festival-goers attend the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file


Festival-goers attend the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Attendees watch the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival’s Awards Gala in 2017. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

If you are a resident of the tri-states and have yet to check out Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, you might be missing out, according to organizers.

“Julien Dubuque International Film Festival brings together everyone,” said Executive Director Susan Gorrell. “All races, cultures, genders. It is for everyone. That’s really important. We screen all types of films, which appeal to all, as well as invite special guests from around the world.”

Now in its 12th year, the film festival will take place April 26 through 30 and, in addition to 180 movies to screen, will include world premieres, U.S. premieres and Iowa premieres, as well as panel discussions, workshops, coffee talks and other events.

Here’s a glance at what you can expect, as well as tips for taking in the film festival experience:

Celebrity sightings

Previous JDIFFs have welcomed such industry pros as Dubuque’s Kate Mulgrew, Gary Busey, Abigail Breslin and Maddie Grace. This year, George R. R. Martin will be in attendance, confirmed organizers. The author behind the popular series, “Games of Thrones” — who also has a Dubuque connection having previously taught at Clarke University — will be screening his new film, “Night of the Cooters.”

Approximately 1,000 filmmakers are anticipated to be in attendance at this year’s event, organizers said.

Special events

Each day of the five-day festival, an assortment of special events will take place to make the most of the movie magic.

On April 22, a pre-event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the DeSoto House Hotel’s Parker Room in Galena, Ill. A selection of features, documentaries and short films will be shown throughout the day, and all screenings are free. Music and food vendors also will be available in Green Street Plaza before an outdoor film begins at 7:30 p.m.

On April 26, patrons can celebrate Canada Day and Night, with an after party at Gary Dolphin’s Iron Bar in the Millwork District. On April 27, there will be an International Night, with an after party at the Riverboat Lounge at Hotel Julien Dubuque. April 28 is World Premiere Night, with a 1990s throwback after party in the Hotel Julien Dubuque Ballroom. On April 29, the Red Carpet and Awards Night will take place, with an after party in Five Flags Center’s arena. And on April 30, a Closing Film party will cap things off at Esther’s Lounge, 123 Main St.

How to know what’s playing

The film guide can be viewed at It includes a breakdown by category of films available to screen, showtimes and locations. Click on a category, and those films will pop up.

The bevvy of genres include documentary, feature, short, animation, comedy, drama, family, horror, international, LGBTQ+, musical, mystery, romance, sci-fi, subtitles, thriller, future filmmakers 1 and 2, nine short blocks, and two student spotlights.

Where to buy tickets

The headquarters for the film festival is located in the lobby of Hotel Julien Dubuque, 200 Main St. Passes for the film festival, or tickets to individual screenings, are available there, or they can be purchased in advance at

Tickets need to be pre-purchased to guarantee seats at screenings.

Where screenings take place

Film screenings and events take place throughout downtown Dubuque, as well as Phoenix Theaters. While the majority of the festival is within walking distance, shuttle service is available, leaving from Hotel Julien Dubuque, with pick-up designated at the screening or event venue.

A map of locations can be found at

Other resources

A film festival app can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Google Play. More information can be found at

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