Wisconsin Film Festival: Announces Dates for 2006 and Highlights 2005 Event

Lori Wilson at Funnel Inc., (608) 251-5481, [email protected] or Mary Carbine, (608) 262-6578, [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. (June 17, 2005) – Wisconsin Film Festival organizers today announced the dates for next year’s Festival. The 8th annual Wisconsin Film Festival, a public program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute, will take place in Madison Thursday, March 30 through Sunday, April 2, 2006. The Call for Entries for film submissions will be announced in late summer; filmmakers can check the website at www.wifilmfest.org for details.

The 2005 Wisconsin Film Festival (March 31-April 3) presented 151 films from 27 countries—from Argentina to Armenia, Bhutan, France, Mexico, Israel, South Korea, Turkey and Senegal—plus talks, panels, coffeehouse discussions, multimedia performances and installations. The lineup included more than 60 projects by filmmakers with Wisconsin ties. More than 80 filmmakers, speakers and industry professionals and 50 student and youth filmmakers participated. Ticket sales topped 24,000.

The Festival marked a number of “firsts” in 2005. The Festival expanded into new venues such as the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center and the Overture Center for the Arts. “Isthmus,” Madison’s weekly newspaper, threw the Festival a highly successful Preview Party. Audience members eagerly voted for the first-ever Audience Awards for Narrative and Documentary Features, sponsored by Steep & Brew (winners were Susanne Bier’s “Brothers” and Taggart Siegel’s “The Real Dirt on Farmer John,” respectively). Favorite Wisconsin films from past festivals were offered on Madison’s Charter OnDemand and Milwaukee’s Time Warner OnDemand. Madison’s Central Business District provided free downtown trolley service to festival-goers.

“It was exciting to see so much audience enthusiasm this year,” said Festival Director Mary Carbine. “The Preview Party was packed, and we had high levels of participation in our first ever Audience Award balloting. Although we didn’t have online ordering this year, the silver lining was less ticket ‘hoarding’ and fewer ‘no-shows’ by advance ticket buyers. This meant more actual ticket holders in seats at the screenings. I’m glad we increased capacity with new venues to meet the steadily increasing demand!”

The 2005 Festival kicked off and closed with films from legendary filmmakers—Samuel Fuller’s magnum opus “The Big Red One” (Warner Brothers), fully reconstructed and presented by “Time” film critic and UW-Madison alumnus Richard Schickel, and “Moolaadé” (New Yorker Films) from African cinema’s “founding father,” Ousmane Sembene and winner, Un Certain Regard at Cannes. In between, Festival-goers sampled the best new independent, documentary, world and experimental cinema.

Indie film insider Chris Gore (“Film Threat,” “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide”) presented the Midwest premiere of his spoof “My Big Fat Independent Movie,” and participated in several talks and panels. Of the Wisconsin Film Festival, Gore said, “It’s in my opinion one of the strongest regional film festivals.” Festival juror Ian Rosenberg, a UW-Madison alumnus, New York-based filmmaker (“The World’s Best Prom”), and entertainment attorney, remarked that he was “so impressed by the growing, huge success that the Festival has clearly become . . . everything about the Festival experience was really outstanding. . . . We plan on telling everyone we know—potential audience members and filmmakers alike—that the Wisconsin Film Festival is an experience they shouldn’t miss out on.”

Other programming highlights included “The Roof of the World”—films from the Himalayan region—including the Midwest premiere of François Prévost and Hugo Latulippe’s “What Remains of Us” (7th Art Releasing), Werner Herzog’s “Wheel of Time” and Khyentse Norbu’s “Travellers & Magicians” (Zeitgeist Films). Documentaries included Ruth Leitman’s “Lipstick and Dynamite” (Koch Lorber Films), Mark Wexler’s “Tell Them Who You Are” (THINKFilm), Amanda Micheli’s “Double Dare,” the U.S. premiere of Pola Rapaport’s “Writer of O” (Zeitgeist Films), and Peter Raymont’s “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire” (California Newsreel), winner of the World Documentary Audience Award at Sundance.

World cinema standouts included Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier’s “Brothers” (IFC Films), winner of the Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award; “Crónicas” (Mexico/Ecuador), Sebastián Cordero’s powerful follow-up to “Ratas, Ratones, Rateros,” starring John Leguizamo; the searing Turkish-German love story “Head-On” (Strand Releasing), winner, Golden Bear and FIPRESCI Prize, Berlin International Film Festival; and the stylish Hungarian thriller, “Kontroll” (THINKFilm), winner, Prix de la Jeunesse, Cannes Film Festival.

The Festival’s annual “Wisconsin’s Own” series showcased films made in Wisconsin, or made elsewhere by current or former Wisconsinites—many in juried competition—as well as a Student Filmmaker Competition featuring work from state universities and a “Young Visions and Voices” program of films by K-12 youth.

The 2005 Wisconsin’s Own line-up was one of the widest yet, with a total of 65 films of varying lengths. It included Taggart Siegel’s Slamdance Audience Award-winning “The Real Dirt on Farmer,” which took both the Wisconsin Film Festival jury prize and Audience Award for Best Documentary; Madison native Ben Wolfinsohn’s (“Friends Forever”) semi-autobiographical “High School Record,” which premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival; Madison native Sean Anders’ “NBT: Never Been Thawed,” a satirical stab at subcultures from Christian rock to frozen entrée enthusiasts and winner of the jury prize for Best Narrative Feature; Marinette native Pete Schwaba’s comedy “The Godfather of Green Bay,” which features Mark Borchardt and a score by The Bodeans; Milwaukee native Aaron Greer’s “Getting’ Grown,” which portrays a family’s struggle to raise a child in urban Milwaukee; Madison filmmaker Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau’s “Side Effects,” an insider’s tale of the world of “big pharma,” and the documentary “Henry Aaron’s Summer Up North,” by Milwaukee natives William Povletich and Josh Adams, which chronicles the legendary slugger’s minor league summer in Eau Claire.

The full list of winners of the Wisconsin’s Own and Student Shorts juried competitions is available at: http://www.wifilmfest.org/awards.asp.

As one of fourteen Global Film Initiative partners nationwide, the Festival hosted the Global Lens series of international films including the Algerian feature “Daughter of Keltoum,” and partnered with the UW-Madison Language Institute on youth outreach programs reaching more than 600 high school and college students.

Experimental and avant-garde film included a program of shorts and the feature “Certain Women” by fiercely independent filmmaker Peggy Ahwesh. Festival juror and School of the Art Institute of Chicago faculty member Chris Sullivan presented, for the first time, all four chapters of his new animated feature “Consuming Spirits,” featured in the Whitney Biennial. Special performances included a 1928 silent Indian film, “Shiraz,” accompanied by original live music performed on North Indian instruments.

The Wisconsin Film Festival continues to have a positive impact for the local economy as well as for the cultural arts scene. Kim Straka of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau pointed to the Festival as one of the biggest events the organization promotes at this time of year. “It adds to our quality of life in Madison,” she said. “People look forward to this event.” It’s estimated that 2005 Festival patrons spent almost $235,400 on lodging, food, and beverages alone in downtown Madison over the four days of the Festival. When combined with operational direct spending, the four-day Festival generated an estimated $363,000 in local dollars for Madison and Wisconsin.

The Festival’s cash operating budget was $187,000 (a 13% percent increase from 2004), which covered major expenses such as bringing in filmmakers and speakers to participate in Festival programs, equipment rental, film shipping and programming costs, and outsourcing technical services. As with many nonprofit arts events, ticket sales and merchandise revenues offset only 50% percent of this budget; the rest of the funds come from grants and community sponsorships. Festival purchases are often negotiated at a steep discount, with many area businesses generously donating use of facilities or services such as marketing, design, website development and hosting, advertising, and public relations. With the value of in-kind donations factored in, the 2005 combined cash and in-kind operating budget for the Festival topped $634,000.

“Festival sponsorship is such a great investment for area businesses,” says Carbine. “Businesses can connect with enthusiastic Festival audiences, support a valued community event, and help sustain a strong economy and workforce.” To learn about supporting the Festival next year, potential sponsors can contact Carbine at (608) 262-6578 or [email protected]

In 2006, the Festival will continue its commitment to offering a variety of films and genres—from experimental shorts and documentaries to feature films, plus a showcase for Wisconsin filmmakers—and to fostering an enthusiastic, community atmosphere that helps attract key films and talent. “I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful festival experience,” said Teri Lang, producer, “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” “From publicity to volunteers and tech support, you have created a wonderful festival.” The Festival welcomes additional comments, feedback and suggestions at (877) 963-FILM or [email protected]

The Wisconsin Film Festival is a public program of the UW-Madison Arts Institute. Festival sponsors, funders and contributors include The Evjue Foundation, 40weight (Marketing Partner) Clotho Advanced Media (Development Partner), Funnel Inc. (Media Relations), 105.5 Triple M, Charter Communications, Isthmus, Shepherd Express [Milwaukee], Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, Downtown Madison, Eastman Kodak Company, Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, IMS (Interactive Media Solutions LLC), Independent Film Channel, Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, Midwest Airlines, Steep & Brew, SupraNet Communications, University Book Store, University Research Park, Willy Street Co-op, Wisconsin Alumni Association, Wisconsin Film Office (Wisconsin Department of Tourism), Burne Photo Imaging, CineFilm Laboratory, i^3 (i-cubed), NT Audio, Independent Edit / Independent Studios, Allied Vaughn, IATSE Local 251 (Projectionists Union), Lonya Nenashev, Roscor, IFP/Chicago, and the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum. Major Venues and Partners include the Bartell Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, Club Majestic, Hillel at University of Wisconsin, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, University Square Theatres, Overture Center for the Arts, UW Cinematheque, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee (Memorial Union Play Circle), with Steep & Brew as a venue for coffeehouse discussions. University of Wisconsin-Madison sponsors include the African Studies Program, Anonymous Fund, Asian American Studies Program, Department of Communication Arts, Center for Interdisciplinary French Studies, Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia (CREECA), Center for South Asia, Department of Communication Arts, European Studies Alliance, a program of the International Institute, Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. World Cinema Day partners include the Global Film Initiative and the UW-Madison Language Institute, with funders including the Evjue Foundation and the UW-Madison Brittingham Trust.