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Saturday, December 09, 2023

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007 kicked off yesterday and lasts until Sunday night at various theaters in Madison. Founded in 1999, the festival takes place each spring and showcases an array of independent films ranging from documentaries, to shorts, to experimental films. The film fest also provides an outlet for local filmmakers and foreign cinema alike. The Daily Cardinal Arts staff had a chance to review some of the films featured in this year's film festival.  




""All the Days Before Tomorrow"" 


Saturday, April 14, 7:45 p.m. 


Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 


He smiles shyly. She reciprocates with a playful glance. His eyes are focused intently as she rambles away nonstop. The platonic friendship is at its finest moment in Francois Dompierre's ""All the Days Before Tomorrow."" The film focuses on Alison (Alexandra Holden) and Wes (Joey Kern), two friends who sometimes find themselves wanting more. 


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""All the Days Before Tomorrow"" is Dompierre's first feature and it unfolds with a certain innocence that is never broken, even when Alison and Wes get caught in the moment. The progression of their relationship is told through flashbacks with every moment as warm as the one before. The film is a reminder that we are human, and sometimes we get more than we expect in our relationships with others. This film is sentimental, but with the addition of bizarre yet comical dream sequences featuring Richard Roundtree, we get the complete package. 


—Eunice Abraham 






Saturday, April 14, 4:15 p.m. 


Monona Terrace Convention Center 


Veteran horror filmgoers know the number one cardinal rule for all terror flicks is that the price of investigating an unexplained, strange noise is usually an equally strange demise. ""Buzzsaw,"" part of the ""Wisconsin Student Short Films"" showing at the film festival, brings that point home when writer/director/editor/star Luke Brown goes to investigate a mysterious sound in the garage one night. 


""Buzzsaw"" is proof that a film can be both tense and compelling, and yet still be quirky and fun. 


Maybe the next person who investigates a strange sound in the night will finally learn a lesson from this one...  


—Brad Boron 




""The Captain and Me""  


Sunday, April 15, 5:30 p.m. 


Monona Terrace Convention Center 


In one deft stroke, this entry celebrates the old-fashioned humor of silent film and the nightlife in downtown Madison. The film follows ""The Captain,"" a sage seafarer who foils the attempts of a villainous band of rogues trying to spoil the fun of the Captain's merry band of revelers.  


When one rogue messes with the Captain himself, it lands him on the receiving end of a climactic chase involving the entire cast and a slew of Madison business patrons. This naturally involves some sightseeing as the pursuers and the pursued race through many of the stops associated with a night on the town in our fair city.  


Embracing the genre, ""The Captain and Me"" employs discrete, uncomplicated storytelling with a dash of whimsy to make for a fun portrayal of a night of barhopping downtown, right down to the pirates and guys in turtlenecks.  


—Mark Riechers 




""Cork n' Bottle String Band: The Ken's Bar Story"" 


Saturday, April 14, 8:45 p.m. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 


Relive Madison music history with this homespun documentary about a Madison staple—The Cork n' Bottle String Band. Years before the bluegrass group graced the Memorial Union Terrace, they played Ken's Bar every Wednesday night. Relive the experiences with the band and their fans as they tell stories from Ken's Bar and their beginning. 


—Laura Kalinowski 




""Cut: Teens and Self Injury"" 


Sunday, April 15, 5:30 p.m. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 


Obsession is a dangerous thing, especially when it has to do with harming your own self. Wendy Schneider directed and produced ""Cut: Teens and Self Injury,"" a documentary exploring the dangerous alley of self-infliction.  


The film is an attempt to gain perspective through the eyes of actual teens who struggled with cutting and self-infliction. Teens from all walks of life share their stories, from the first infliction up to the healing process. The film is not afraid to be raw and does not attempt to glamorize its dark subject matter. The focus is on the people—real people who go through very real turmoil. ""Cut"" also features Shirley Manson from Garbage, who adds her own thoughts on self-injury. 


—Eunice Abraham 




""Here is Always Somewhere Else"" 


Friday, April 13, 9:15 p.m. 




Producer and editor Aaron Ohlmann, a 2003 UW-Madison graduate, will present a special screening of ""Here Is Always Somewhere Else,"" a feature-length documentary he made in partnership with Emmy-nominated writer/director Rene Daalder.  


The film focuses on the life and work of Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, whose self-destructive performances culminated in his attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a 12-foot sailboat, claiming that the voyage would take him three months if he chose to use the sail, and six months if he decided to let the current take him. Nine months later the boat washed up off the coast of Ireland, but Bas Jan had vanished.  


As recounted through the eyes of fellow emigrant Rene Daalder, the documentary becomes a sweeping overview of contemporary art films as well as an epic saga of the transformative powers of the sea. 


—Aaron Ohlmann, guest contributed to the Daily Cardinal 




""It's Happiness: A Polka Documentary"" 


Saturday, April 14, 6:30 p.m. 


Wisconsin Historical Society 


Craig DiBiase's polka documentary is as much fun as the music the film is about. It follows the evolving polka scene and the meaning of the dance to Wisconsin's heritage. From the Wisconsin's Polka Boosters to ""The Rowdy Bunch,"" this movie is a good time. And if the dancing doesn't do it for you, you have to respect the elders in this movie who could probably drink you under the table. Though the movie drags at certain points, the quick tempo of the polka music and the lovable enthusiasts keep your interest. ""It's Happiness: A Polka Documentary"" will give young and old a new appreciation for our state dance.  


—Megan Corbett 




""The Last Stain""  


Saturday, April 14, 2:00 p.m. 


Monona Terrace Convention Center 


A look behind the curtain in the world of street crime, ""The Last Stain"" attempts to shed light on the ""who"" and ""why"" of theft and petty crime. Brodsky and Smitty are practically brothers, trying to help each other find a way to solve the problems they have with their real family.  


For Brodsky, seeing his mother struggle to support him and his little brother is turning him, however hesitantly, to a more drastic solution. Smitty, on the other hand, has a pregnant girlfriend and the idea in his head that his dire straits afford him no alternative but crime. These misguided notions bring the pair to a convenience store robbery, where a run-in with some hardened thieves out for the same score tests the limits of their brotherhood. 


—Mark Riechers 




""Walk into Hell/Purgatorio"" 


Saturday, April 14, 1:15 p.m. 


Frederic March Play Circle 


Start by imagining David Lynch's ""Eraserhead"" compressed to 15 minutes, spoken in mumbled gibberish and somehow, made more symbolically obscure. Add the acting of two bumbling brothers and sprinkle gluttonously with religious references wavering between reverence and blasphemy before straining away all unambiguous material. Finally, don't bother cooking this dead fetus-sized feast for the subconscious. Director Dal Lazlo's ""Walk into Hell/Purgatorio"" is served raw, like fetal pig guts eaten straight from the belly. Weak stomachs beware. 


Described as ""brain-damaged surrealism,"" this stylistically-bipolar, cinematic anomaly actually combines two films shot 30 years apart. Both follow Marv and Merle—Tweedledee and Tweedledum of avant-garde—first through a black and white ""hell,"" where the duo beheads fish and studies the anatomy of partial human heads found in gelatinous molds, before visiting the more vibrant, ""Purgatorio,"" where the two hilarious geriatrics ramble between non sequiturs and Eucharistic rituals, doggy style.  


When it's over, you'll have cringed, laughed, squirmed and maybe even made sense of it. You certainly won't see anything like it for some time.  


—Ryan Hebel 




""White Bunny""  


Saturday, April 14, 11:30 p.m. 


Sunday, April 15, 11:00 p.m. 




""White Bunny"" is a story that is not driven by plot, like most, but by images on the screen. The German film, part of the Wisconsin Film Festival's ""short times 10"" series, is a tale of three people on a train, one whose somewhat dark memories are sparked by the appearance of a young girl's pet rabbit. 


The film is more than a little strange both visually and in what little plot it has, and may send you searching for a copy of the short just to understand what you've seen. But where it's strongest is in use of its dark tone and visceral images, reminding us all that film is first a visual art. 


—Brad Boron

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