Independent films find home with Omaha Film Festival

Photo Courtesy of Hayley Jurek
Photo Courtesy of Hayley Jurek

Hayley Jurek
Online Exclusive

The Omaha Film Festival is back for its 11th year and is set to show more than 100 independent films from all over the world at the Village Pointe Theatre, March 8 to13. Filmmakers, writers, actors, and film lovers are invited to attend.

Established in 2005, the Omaha Film Festival screens narrative features, documentaries, short films and animated shorts with special Nebraska spotlights and opening and closing night films. This year, the festival has added an educational component with the new Omaha Film Festival Academy.

Marc Longbrake, one of the festival directors, said one of the reasons they started the festival was to expose Omaha to movies that the community wouldn’t otherwise get to see. While online video websites have made that a little bit easier, the festival does the hard work of finding the best independent films and then putting them on the big screen.  

“We put together what we think is a really strong program. In terms of content and quality,” Longbrake said.

The festival also stands out because every filmmaker is invited to the festival to view their film on the big screen and take part in a Q & A session with the audience.

“That’s a big part of film festivals, you have a chance to interact with the people who created the work,” Longbrake said.

Last year, the Omaha Film Festival showcased more than 80 Q & A sessions, making the film watching experience that much richer. The festival also features a party each night following the films’ showing.
“If you are interested in movies, this will give you a sort of insider look at how movies are made,” Longbrake said. “When you are hanging out in a room with people who are interested in the same kinds of things you are interested in, there is a chance to interact with those people.”

Longbrake said the festival helps foster a community of people who are interested in filmmaking as an art form.

“That’s another reason we have the parties every night,” he said. “All of a sudden, you are having a conversation with people who are into filmmaking and that’s pretty cool.”

The Omaha Film Festival will also feature a writers’ theatre, where screenwriters can watch their scripts come to life with professional actors on a stage. In addition, the festival holds a filmmakers conference every year that has brought in guests such as Famke Janssen, Chad Michael Murray, Jaime King, Chris Klein, Mauro Fiore, Mike Hill, Shane Black, Tom Elkins, and Ted Griffin to speak about their experiences in the film industry.

Every year, Longbrake said he enjoys bringing new people into Omaha to not only experience the festival but get to know the community as well.

“I am excited about having an opportunity to bring filmmakers to Omaha who’ve never actually been here,” Longbrake said, “and once they get there, experience the film festival crowd, our parties, the community and think ‘Wow, Omaha is actually a pretty cool place!”

For more information, to see this year’s schedule, or to buy tickets and passes please visit