FilmScene Announces Inaugural Refocus Film Festival

May 18, 2022

October festival will celebrate the role of literature in film

Iowa City, Iowa — FilmScene, Iowa City’s Nonprofit Cinema, proudly announces Refocus Film Festival, a new film festival scripted specifically for the City of Literature. The inaugural year of the festival will be held October 6-9, 2022.

“Cinema builds community, and what better way to honor our this community than a festival uniquely crafted for Iowa City?” said FilmScene Executive Director Andrew Sherburne. “The last two years have been anything but festive, but we look forward to gathering in celebration this fall and believe it will be worth the wait.”

Refocus Film Festival will include films, conversations, multi-disciplinary performances, and art inspired by the work of adaptation, transforming one art form into another. The festival will take place primarily in FilmScene's five theaters at The Chauncey and on The Ped Mall, with additional programming in the downtown district.

“Literary and stage adaptations have been around as long as film has existed. Now with podcasts, video games, and countless other creative art forms to pull from, the possibilities for this program are endless,” said FilmScene Programming Director Ben Delgado. “We’re excited to bring this carefully curated program of new works to Iowa City.”

Movie lovers will rejoice at the opportunity to take in multiple films each day, with screenings preceded by local performing artists to create a kaleidoscopic impression of the many artistic disciplines that inform our big screen experience.

In the spirit of cross-disciplinary curiosity, Refocus will share the weekend with the Iowa City Book Festival. In addition to their independently curated programs, the festivals will cooperate to take audiences deeper into conversation about how an idea journeys from page to screen.

The name, Refocus Film Festival, resurrects the moniker of Refocus, a film and photography festival that existed at the University of Iowa from 1965 through 1978. An influential gathering during the nascent days of American film festivals, Refocus hosted luminaries like Charles Guggenheim, DeDe Allen, Robert Altman and Robert Redford.

Refocus Film Festival was initially announced for 2020, but had been delayed because of COVID-19 precautions. Additional details for the 2022 festival will be announced in the coming months and passes will be available in late summer.


Refocus Film Festival, in its inaugural year, will present a full weekend of films, gatherings, conversations, special guests, outdoor screenings, and live performances in a community-wide celebration of cinema. This vibrant, wholly unique annual festival will spotlight source material—literature, journalism, photography, music, art, podcast, and more—and present its evolution of voice, perspective and medium to the big screen.


The Iowa City Book Festival is produced by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, and celebrates books and writing through a mix of readings, discussions, panels, demonstrations, and a book fair over the course of a week in October. The festival collaborates with numerous area organizations to produce dozens of programs that connect readers and writers, minds and ideas.


FilmScene is Iowa City’s nonprofit cinema, working in partnership with the Bijou Film Board, a University of Iowa student organization, to present films at two locations on five permanent screens and a seasonal outdoor cinema. From our home in Downtown Iowa City, we enrich the cultural vitality of the surrounding area through community-supported programming that showcases exceptional American and international filmmaking in a vibrant, accessible, equitable, and welcoming space. FilmScene’s mission is to challenge, inspire, educate, and entertain our diverse communities through the shared discovery of film.

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