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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Wisconsin Film Festival is set to bring top movies to Madison again

This year marks the Wisconsin Film Festival’s 15th stint in Madison, with more than 150 films being presented over the course of eight days.

In an introduction on the website, festival programmers Mike King and Jim Healy state that there will be “sidesplitting comedies, eye-opening documentaries, mind-blowing animation, and much, much more.” With films coming from directors across the globe, as well as a strong emphasis on Wisconsin directors (32 films come straight from Wisconsin), the festival is set to give those in attendance a wide variety of films to check out.

More than 85 films have at least one screening sold out with a week to go before the festival. For a number of films, a producer or director will be on hand for Q&A sessions after the screening.

Something that I am particularly intrigued by is the selection of the Spaghetti Westerns featured at the festival this year. Four Italian films produced during the late-1960s: “The Big Gundown,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “The Hellbenders” and “Sabata,” will all be shown at the festival. This is being presented in conjunction with the UW Cinematheque’s ongoing series and is a unique feature that should not be missed by film fans.

This year’s festival is also spotlighting two directors—Douglas Fairbanks and King Hu. In Fairbanks’ two films, “The Taming of the Shrew” (1929) and “The Thief of Bagdad“ (1924), he explored both short- and long-form narrative styles and in turn created two of the greatest pieces of early American cinema.

“Dragon Inn,” a Hu film, was one of the earliest pieces of Taiwanese cinema. And with “A Touch of Zen,” Hu made the first Chinese language film to win a major western film festival award when he took home the 1975 technical prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dozens of short films are scheduled to screen at the festival. With many falling under the “experimental” category, these films, some as short as two minutes long, are the backbone of the festival as they allow a broad body of students and professionals alike to show their work.

One of the films I am personally very excited for is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” creator Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Whedon, who is known for being incredibly prolific and willing to take on more adventurous projects, shot this film in only two weeks, between shooting and editing “The Avengers.”

Whedon used the original text of Shakespeare’s play and the film has received critical acclaim since its release. He also used a number of actors and actresses he had worked with before. Amy Acker, who plays Beatrice, worked on “Angel” and “The Cabin in the Woods.” Alexis Denisof—who plays Benedick, worked on “Buffy,” “Angel” and “Dollhouse” with Whedon—brings a familiarity, which should be a treat to watch.

The main location for ticketing is at Union South and student tickets are just $5 each with a valid student ID. With films running from 5:30 p.m. April 11 to after 10 p.m. Thursday, April 18, with keen planning skills, one has the opportunity to see dozens of films from documentaries, to shorts, to full-length films.

With so many films to choose from and only eight days, it’s hard to go wrong.

Excited for The Wisconsin Film Festival? So are we! Be on the lookout for updates and coverage from The Daily Cardinal.

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