Board dismisses longtime local indie film champion

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2012 - 9:34 PM

IFP Minnesota executive director ousted after 25 years.

After a quarter-century spearheading IFP Minnesota, an organization supporting independent filmmakers and photographers, Jane Minton has been dismissed as the group's executive director.

Minton's position with the organization made her one of the most prominent figures on the local film scene.

"We're losing an icon in the world of independent filmmaking for Minnesota," said Christine Kunewa Walker, producer of the indie films "Howl," "Thin Ice" and "Darling Companion." "She had a huge impact on my career, supporting me and advising me even about projects that weren't made in Minnesota. It's going to be a huge loss."

IFP board president Christie Rothenberg Healey declined to comment about the situation, but board member Michael Bodnarchek declared himself "very upset" when he learned of the move following a meeting of the four-person executive committee this week. He described Minton's departure as a matter of management style and personality conflicts.

"I'm not happy with the way it went down at all," said Bodnarchek, a St. Paul native with a long career producing commercials and music videos in Hollywood. "The reason I joined the board was because of Jane. The reason I got involved was because of Jane. I didn't join the organization to get involved with drama on the board. I joined to put drama on the screen."

Minton championed local filmmakers in innovative ways, persuading Northwest Airlines to program experimental shorts as in-flight movies. In 1995, she helped found the Minnesota Blockbuster Film Fund, a program created by the Minnesota Film Board and administered by IFP with funds from Blockbuster Video. The enterprise awarded annual grants totaling $75,000, film stock and lab services to assist filmmakers in developing their projects. The endowment evolved into the McKnight Screenwriting Fellowship, also administered by IFP.

Minton served as a mentor to filmmakers including Ali Selim, director of the locally produced "Sweetland," Walker and Sundance veteran Patrick Coyle.

"It's shocking," Coyle said. "Jane helped me by constantly alerting me to grant and fellowship opportunities. She's one of the most knowledgeable people in the local film community, a ubiquitous presence at every film event in town and always willing to share."

Minton could not be reached for comment.

IFP Minnesota is a nonprofit organization with an annual budget of $750,000. Part of a network of about 500 members throughout the Upper Midwest, IFP offers workshops, seminars, mentorships and directs $125,000 annually in grants to emerging artists. Other IFP chapters are in Chicago, New York, Phoenix and Seattle. The Minnesota board of directors expects to name an interim head within two weeks.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186 Twitter: @colincovert

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