FRFF’s inaugural Guest Curator Sharon Mansur chats with intern Hailey McKinley during the festival.

“Support from the Winona Community Foundation made both in-person and virtual film programming possible.”
– Eileen Moeller, Managing Director at FRFF

Frozen River Film Festival (FRFF) received a $10,000 Cycle 2 Community Grant from the Winona Community Foundation in 2021. This grant was to fund a hybrid (virtual and in-person) 2022 festival, as well as mission-critical support due to major cuts in regional and statewide arts-related funding.

Frozen River Film Festival’s goal was to continue with its mission and remain in service during times of pandemic social and economic stresses. The organization’s objectives were to:

Objective 1 – Offer a winter-time cultural event and economic stimulus in Winona from festival visitors.

Objective 2 – Add to Winona’s recognition as a city of great arts programming and robust intellectual dialogue by presenting the only exclusively-documentary film festival in Minnesota.

The Frozen River Film Festival staff report receiving many positive and complimentary comments. People reportedly were very happy to be able to gather together in person and watch film together. Many of the virtual attendees reportedly remarked that they were grateful to be able to watch the films from home.

Survey responses showed that 64% had previously attended the festival and 79% intend on attending it again. About 25% of ticket purchasers attended both in-person events and virtual film screenings.

FRFF learned that community support is essential to its festival. The organization expressed its gratitude that the Winona Community Foundation’s funding included a focus on COVID relief or operating support during the pandemic. The organization retained strong individual support from community members wanting to bolster the festival through the time of pandemic restrictions.

To continue serving through their mission, Frozen River Film Festival maintains multiple sources of funding including ticket sales, workshop fees, sponsorships, donations, and grant funding. They also involved festival leadership to evaluate their program measurements with surveys and anecdotal feedback allowing them to review new ways to reduce expenses or add programming that participants request.

“(Our sustainability) is always evolving to stay relevant and efficient with our operations and service to the community”. 
– Eileen Moeller, Managing Director at FRFF

To learn more about Frozen River Film Festival, please visit

An important part of the Winona Community Foundation’s mission is realized though awarding community grants to meet the ever-changing needs of the community through a competitive process. By doing so, a variety of interests are supported with the goal of helping local charities make a difference in the Winona area. Our community grants for nonprofits are broad and inclusive to meet the current community needs in the Winona area. Make a gift in support of the Community grant program to make a difference today.