DUBUQUE, Iowa - Movie lovers from all over the world are in downtown Dubuque this weekend. It's part of "The Julien Dubuque Film Festival". Unlike most film festivals where they show the films in theaters, in Dubuque organizers set up a screens inside local businesses like bars, stores, restaurants. It's an effort to bring business downtown.
Tucked away in a tiny banquet room above Lot One bar, viewers are engrossed in an independent film.
Festival Director Christopher Kulovitz said, "some of our venues only hold 20 people. Some hold 200 people. "
A block away, inside Stam Chocolates, employees are serving far more customers than on a typical Friday.
Owner Chris Oberender said, "they actually just fell in love with the place and they've already said they'll be back later tonight. "
While film appreciation is the festival's main dish, the local business boost is the sweet side dish.
Kulovitz said, "the festival is a commerce engine and it can really drive a lot of participation and foot traffic and business to unexpected places. "
Business owners say after a long,cold winter this is just what they need to kick off the spring season.
Oberender said, "I thought after easter it might calm down a little bit and then I remembered the film festival and it should be one our best weekends. "
Actor Gary Busey is the festival's honorary chairman. He and his wife are using the festival to raise awareness and money about Kawasaki Disease. That's an illness their son dealt with.