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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 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 produced in our region and engage with storytellers from across the Upper Midwest. Come prepared to experience a range of stories, emotions, and questions. Good films 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 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 misrepresented historically. We are itching to showcase all of our small town's talent and attract a new demographic of visitors to Ely - for the arts.

What is unique about the Ely Film Festival (EFF) 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!

The Ely Film Festival is also taking place during Ely’s annual Winter Festival. During this time, visitors can view stunning snow sculptures and experience all that winter in the Northwoods has to offer.

Who can attend the Ely Film Festival?

The Ely 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 Pass, which provides access to our screenings, live music, panels, wrap parties, and more.

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

Get set to mark your calendar!

Remember, the festival begins on Thursday, the 8th of February, and continues until Sunday, the 11th of February, 2024. It's important to note that this festival is a part of the 31st Annual Ely Winter Festival, taking place during the second weekend of this exciting 10-day event.

Where does the Ely 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 be showing 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 $95 Film Festival Pass gives you access to all screening events, panels, and more. The last day to purchase a Festival Pass is January 31st! Individual tickets to screening events are $10 each.

How do I get my Festival Pass?

Watch the “How to” video here:

Ely Film Festival 2024 - How to Purchase or Renew a Festival Pass

  • Access the Ticket Section: Click on the "Tickets" link in the website menu.
  • For Returning Users:
    • Click on “Renew Your Festival Pass”.
    • Enter the Member Login page.
    • Use your email and password from last year.
    • If forgotten, use the “Forgot Password?” link.
    • Once logged in, choose to renew or upgrade your pass (single, double, or group).
  • For New Users:
    • Click “Buy a Festival Pass”.
    • Select your desired pass type.
    • You'll be prompted to create a member account.
  • Purchasing Tickets for Movies:
    • After pass purchase, visit the Festival Schedule page.
    • Click “Buy Tickets” for your chosen movie.
    • Ensure you are logged into your member account.
    • Claim your free ticket(s) and/or buy additional ones.
    • Follow the prompts to confirm tickets and enter payment details.
  • Pass Pickup:
    • Collect passes at the Theater.
    • Available on Wednesday, February 7th, and Thursday, February 8th, from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.
    • Also available Friday, February 9th, and Saturday, February 10th, from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
How do I purchase individual tickets?

Purchasing Tickets for Individual Movies:

  • Accessing the Festival Schedule:
  • Selecting a Movie:
    • Find the movie you want to see.
    • Click on the “Buy Tickets” link for that movie.
  • Purchasing Tickets:
    • Select the number of tickets you wish to purchase.
    • Follow the prompts to confirm your tickets.
    • Enter your payment details to complete the purchase.
I purchased my Festival Pass and/or Individual tickets, what do I do next?

Watch the "How to" video here:

EFF24 Explainer - Reserving Tickets with your Festival Pass

Post-Purchase Process at the Festival:

  • Check-In at the Theater:
    • After purchasing your Pass/Tickets online, go to the theater.
    • Check-in with the ticketing staff in the lobby to redeem your tickets.
  • Claiming Physical Tickets:
    • The staff will print out your physical ticket.
    • This ticket is required to be presented at the door of your film.
  • Tickets for Multiple Films:
    • If you have tickets for multiple films in a day, claim all of them at once each day.
  • Requirement of Physical Ticket:
    • You must have your physical ticket to enter the screening.
  • Arrival Time at Theater:
    • Arrive at the theater 20 minutes before the scheduled start time of your film.
I can't remember which films I signed up for with the Pass, and I can't seem to find an email confirmation for my tickets. Help!

Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to describe your scenario. We can help you look up which tickets you have reserved. You can also come into Ely's Historic State Theater any time the theater is open and ask the theater staff to look up your account.

Unfortunately there's not an easy way for our users to look up their own transactions, and sometimes the confirmation emails get lost or are mistakenly not sent. Thanks for your patience!

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:

Watch 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 specializing 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 Ely. Ely is a crossroads of wilderness, arts, and history. Our friendly, outdoor-loving community welcomes visitors.

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.