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November 21, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm


The fall season’s premier event returns to celebrate independent filmmakers and the independent film spirit. Light is crucial to filmmaking – it sets the scene, establishes the mood, and draws the eye to what the audience is meant to see. Illuminate is FilmNorth’s annual gala that shines light on the amazing filmmaking community in The North and raises much-needed funds to support FilmNorth programming.

Join us Thursday, November 21st, 7-11pm at Paikka, the acclaimed event space in St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower complex, home of FilmNorth. Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres by Birchwood Café, Grey Goose® cocktails, Lake Monster Beer, and wine while listening to music by DJ Chamun and mingling with filmmakers and film lovers – like you!

This year we honor two industry icons: Acclaimed independent writer/director Gregg Araki, who has been masterfully crafting films for over three decades, and celebrated screenwriter—and Minnesota’s own—Michael Starrbury, whose meteoric rise in the industry includes both Independent Spirit Award and 2019 Emmy Award nominations for his work. The Awards will be presented at a special reception at FilmNorth at 6:30pm.



Party at Paikka: $75
Party + Private Reception (6:30pm) for Honorees at FilmNorth: $100
All tickets are 100% tax deductible
Casual cocktail attire


Gregg Araki earned an MFA in Film Production from the USC School of Cinema/TV and a BA in Film Studies from UC Santa Barbara. His films have screened at the world’s most renowned festivals including Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto, New York, London and Deauville. Araki has made eleven acclaimed independent features including WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD (2014), KABOOM (2011), SMILEY FACE (2007), MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2005), SPLENDOR (1999), NOWHERE (1997), THE DOOM GENERATION (1995), TOTALLY F***ED UP (1994) and THE LIVING END (1992). He most recently directed 10 episodes of NOW APOCALYPSE for Starz – a series he created, co-wrote and executive produced with Steven Soderbergh and Gregory Jacobs.

Michael Starrbury most recently co-wrote the final episode of Ava DuVernay’s limited series WHEN THEY SEE US with her, which earned him his first Emmy nomination for writing (the series was nominated 16 times). The two are also currently adapting THE BATTLE OF VERSAILLES at HBO Films. Michael is currently writing an action-comedy at New Line for Jermaine Fowler and Lil Rel, and a Robert Smalls biopic for Participant Media. Previously, he was an Independent Spirit Award nominee for writing the Sundance hit THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE which sold to Lionsgate, and also co-created the Comedy Central series THE LEGENDS OF CHAMBERLAIN HEIGHTS, which ran for 2 seasons.