Hellbender Film Festival returns to Lindenwood


Alexis Montgomery, Reporter

Lindenwood’s annual film festival returns this November with two new categories: environmental and dance films.

The student-led film festival started in 2020, and accepts entries from high school and college filmmakers to compete in different categories. The festival accepts entries from any country, but the festival devotes two awards to Missouri-made films.

Several categories include best documentary, best narrative film, best animated film, best climate and environmental film, and best dance on film.

The festival was held from Nov. 3-4 at the J. Scheidegger Center at Lindenwood University.

Hellbender Festival director Andrew Millians said the festival got started with the help of other professors in the cinema arts program and graphic design lab.

“We opened up for submissions in the spring of 2020 with the plan of holding screenings in November of that year. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced those screenings to be pushed back to last spring,” Millians said in an email.

Millians said the intention of the festival was to function as an outreach for the cinema arts program.

“We screen high school and college films so the goal is for those filmmakers to learn more about our undergraduate and graduate programs by being involved in the festival,” Millians said. “Our aim is to screen films from around the world, but we make it a point to keep an eye out for local submissions.”

Millians said last year the festival received more than 400 submissions from around the world, and this year they received about 200. He says the primary categories for submission are narrative, documentary, and animated films.

The films are then screened and judged by a team of Lindenwood students and alumni from the Cinema Arts, Theater, and Dance programs. Millians said over the past few years they’ve had more than 25 different people help out.

“I’m the festival director so I make the final decisions, but I make sure that every film is assessed by multiple screeners to ensure we’re programming films not only of high quality, but which will also resonate with a young audience,” Millians said.

The festival highlights two new categories, including climate and the environment and dance on film.

“For this year’s festival, we created two special categories – Climate and the Environment and Dance on Film. The former is in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation while the latter was put together with the LU Dance Program,” Millians said.

Millians said Tricia Zweier of the dance program, as well as dance students and alumni, helped out as judges for the dance on film submissions.

Awards for the film selections are expected to be announced soon.

Next year’s festival opens up for submissions on Dec. 1, and will contain another new category. Screenings will be in November of 2022.

“We’ll be keeping the dance on film category while adding one devoted to social justice,” Millians said.