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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the film festival? Check out the FAQs below for more information. For news and updates, click the button below to join our email newsletter.


What is a film festival?
An event that takes place over several days featuring a back-to-back series of films created by independent filmmakers. Feature films or “shorts'' are usually produced outside of Hollywood and other major film studio systems. Independent films for an independent town.
A film festival? So what’s the big deal?
Film festivals are places of discovery. There will be opportunities to view films that were produced in our region and to engage with storytellers from across the Upper Midwest. Come prepared to experience a range of stories, emotions, and questions. Good films can both reflect the world as we know it and introduce us to new perspectives.
Why does Ely need a film festival?
We are excited to strengthen our regional creative economy through uniquely curated programming. We wish to increase media literacy, exposure and access, and to show the public that arts jobs are real jobs. We look forward to connecting our community with regional filmmakers, especially those whose stories have been underrepresented or mis-represented historically. We are itching to showcase all of the talent in our small town and to attract a new demographic of visitors to Ely - for the arts.
What is unique about the End of the Road Film Festival (ERFF) compared to other festivals out there?

Our festival prioritizes regional stories and connects our audience with access to films they might not otherwise be able to see. Also, we’re located at the end of the road in beautiful Ely, Minnesota – so there’s that!

Additionally, the End of the Road Film Festival is taking place during Ely’s annual Winter Festival, during which time visitors will be able to view stunning snow sculptures and experience all that winter in the northwoods has to offer.

Who can attend the End of the Road Film Festival?

The End of the Road Film Festival is open to the public!

There are various ways to participate, but the best way to experience the festival is to buy a Film Festival Member Pass, which gains all access to our screenings, live music, panels, wrap parties and more.

Film Festival Member Pass holders will also be able to purchase individual movie/event tickets at half-price for members of their party.

I’m ready to mark my calendar! When is this happening again?

The festival kicks off on Thursday, February 9th and goes through Sunday, February 12th, 2023. As previously mentioned, we are an official event of the 30th Annual Ely Winter Festival, and our programming takes place during the second weekend of that 10-day event.

Where does the End of the Road Film Festival take place?
We are an official event of Ely’s Historic State Theater located in Ely, Minnesota - waaaay “Up North,” just a stone’s throw away from the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota. All film festival programming will take place at Ely’s Historic State Theater (238 E Sheridan St. Ely, MN). There will be additional Ely Winter Festival events happening all around town. Learn more about the Ely Winter Festival below
How much does it cost to attend?
Our Film Festival Member Pass costs $75. This gives you access to all screening events, half-off discounts for everyone in your party, access to live music, wrap parties, panels, and more. Individual tickets to screening events cost $10 each.

About Ely’s Historic State Theater

What is Ely’s Historic State Theater (EHST)?

Ely’s Historic State Theater (EHST) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization formed in 2019 just before the major start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, EHST began serving the community as an event space and hub for arts activity. The State Theater has two theater spaces, comfortable seating, 4K projectors & screens, audio systems, stage lighting, and a modern concession & lobby area.

Learn more about Ely’s Historic State Theater by watching this 3-minute video:

What is so ‘historic’ about the State Theater?

Ely’s Historic State Theater was built in 1936 by the Swanson family in Ely. Its designer was a noted architecture firm called Liebenberg & Kaplan, who had designed many theaters in Minnesota and other northern states. In 2008, the recession caused the State Theater to close its doors to the public. 

By 2014, The State Theater had fallen into disrepair and was purchased by Alley A Realty, a family business who specializes in historic preservation and redevelopment. They worked with the State of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Interior to restore the exterior and interior to its original condition.

How does Ely’s Historic State Theater support our community with arts programming?

The Ely Historic State Theater helps subsidize the costs of regular movie tickets, keeping them at $5 per ticket so they are affordable to our patrons. The theater offers a mix of classic titles and new films. Moviegoers love being able to experience the big screen in our small town once more!

About Ely Minnesota

What is Ely known for?
Ely is nestled within the Superior National Forest and at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, hence the end of the road. Ely is a crossroads of wilderness, arts, and history. Visitors are welcomed in by our friendly, outdoor-loving community.
How do I get to Ely?

In the winter, you’ll want to plan about 5 hours to travel north from the Twin Cities or 2.5 hours if you’re coming from Duluth. The best way to get to Ely is by car. There are many routes you can take from either the cities or Duluth. We recommend taking a route that includes Highway 61 up along the North Shore and turning onto Highway 1 toward Ely if the road conditions are good – the boreal forest is so beautiful!

Once you are here, much of the town is walkable, but vehicular transport is helpful, especially in winter.

What else is there to do while visiting Ely?

For information about fun activities to do in Ely, there are many resources you can consult. We recommend visiting ​ for general information about the area. Once you’re in town, pick up a copy of the Ely Winter Times, a free publication available at several local retailers. The Ely Winter Times includes a print calendar of area events, as well as a dining guide and list of area attractions. Lastly, consult the Ely Winter Festival schedule of events for information about what else is happening around town while you’re here for the film festival. 

Where can I stay while I'm visiting?

For more information about lodging options in town, visit

About Ely Winter Festival

What is Ely Winter Festival?

The Ely Winter Festival is perhaps the best winter celebration in the Northland. In true Ely fashion, we spend 10 days of February highlighting the best winter has to offer. Enjoy the international snow sculpting symposium in Whiteside Park and experience an outdoor pedestrian art gallery via the Ely ArtWalk. Try something new by taking a class at the Ely Folk School, or get away from city lights and embark on a dog sledding adventure.