Dubuque film festival: a star studded event - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque film festival: a star studded event

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The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival kicked off Thursday evening in Dubuque. The festival is in its third year and features more than 50 films.

"We really didn't know what to expect our first year. We think we had 3,000 people come for like three days. Last year, it increased. We think we had about 6,000 people. This year, we are already on track to have more than 10,000 people here for 4 days," said Michael Coty, executive director of the film festival.

Coty said many downtown businesses look forward to the film festival.

"Our big thing is to keep the venues downtown and spread over many businesses. Our screening venues are bars, businesses and hotels. So these businesses are seeing an influx (in business), especially the hotels," Coty said Thursday.

This year the festival's honorary chair is Abigail Breslin, known for her roles in movies such as "Little Miss Sunshine," "My Sister's Keeper," "Ender's Game" and "August: Osage County." Breslin said this is the first time she has been to Dubuque.

"It's really exciting to be here. I've never been to Dubuque. I've been to Des Moines before, I've filmed there. So I'm excited to be back in the state," Breslin said Thursday.

The film festival will make a substantial donation to Breslin's choice of nonprofits, including Project Sunshine and Cristian Rivera Foundation.

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization that provides free education, recreational and social programs to children facing medical challenges and their families.

"I've been involved in Project Sunshine for almost 10 years. I got into it right after "Little Miss Sunshine" came out and I really liked it," Breslin said.

The Cristian Rivera Foundation is a New York City-based nonprofit that raises awareness and funding for Pontine Giloma, which includes a tumor on the brain stem.

"I recently became involved with the Cristian Rivera Foundation through some friends who were involved with it," Breslin said.

While in Dubuque, Breslin, who is also a musician, will also be releasing a single.

"It's really exciting and nerve wracking. It's a really personal song and I just hope that people like it and can relate to it in some way," Breslin said Thursday.

Dwier Brown, best known for his role as Kevin Costner's father in the Field of Dreams, signed his latest book called "If You Build It..." Thursday evening as a part of the festival. Brown said he has been working on the book, which is about fathers, fate and the Field of Dreams for 2 1/2 years. He said the book was just recently published.

"I sent them here because there wasn't time to get them to California. So I just held the book in my hand for the first time the other night and I practically cried," Brown said Thursday.

Brown said it was nice to be back in Iowa.

"I grew up on a farm in Ohio. So to me, one of the greatest blessings of shooting this movie in Iowa in the first place was how much it reminded me of Ohio. The people are so nice," Brown said.

The film festival will continue in downtown Dubuque until Sunday. For more information about the festival CLICK HERE.

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