The University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts will present the in-person return of the annual Wisconsin Film Festival on Thursday, April 7. The week-long festival strives to showcase various types of films from Wisconsin and beyond.
After the festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and streamed online last year, community members are excited to finally experience cinema in person once again.
“It's especially exciting for the participants and the audience members alike, as the best way to experience movies is on the big screen with fellow film lovers,” Karen Cross Durham, Wisconsin Film Festival marketing and public relations director, told The Daily Cardinal. “There is something magical that occurs when sitting together in a theater to watch a movie that can't be replicated at home on one's laptop or any other screen display device.”
Pre-pandemic, annual attendance at the Wisconsin Film Festival was around 28,000 people, but due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the festival is anticipating a slightly lower turnout.
“We have a handful of UW student filmmakers with work featured in this year’s festival, and we are hoping for a large turnout of student attendees, especially since tickets are free to them this year,” said Durham.
According to Ben Reiser, director of operations for Wisconsin's Own programming, there will be 150 Wisconsin films screened this year over the course of eight days. A diverse array of films, including American independent films, international cinema and documentary films, will be featured. The festival will also screen experimental, avant-garde and restored classics.
The opening night film, “Anais in Love,” will be screened Thursday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at Shannon Hall in Memorial Union. The movie is about a young woman who falls in love with the partner of the man with whom she is having an affair.
The festival will also present “KIMI,” a film that UW-Madison alum, screenwriter and co-producer David Koepp worked on. It is about an agoraphobic tech worker named Angela Childs, who discovers a murder and puts her own life in danger in an attempt to solve the mystery. “KIMI” will screen on Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m. at the UW Cinematheque in Vilas Hall. Although tickets are sold out, there will be rush tickets available.
“Stay Prayed Up” will be presented as part of Wisconsin’s Own, which is a section of the film festival that features Wisconsin filmmakers, themes or settings. This documentary explores the story of “Mother” Lena Mae Perry, who leads her group in the recording of their first live gospel album. There will be a Q&A and performance following the screening.
The festival also caters to a younger audience through the children’s section of the event called Big Screens, Little Folks (BSLF). This series will present four feature films and 26 shorts aimed to “inspire” and “delight” the youth.
“‘Small but Mighty!’ is the shorts program for ages 5 to 8, ‘Troubles and Triumphs’ is recommended for ages 8 to 11 and our French program for ages 8 and up is called ‘Take Heart’,” BSLF Director Terry Kerr told the Cardinal. “We offer student matinees for elementary schools that are underwritten by grants and other funding so that schools can attend for free.”
Tickets are available at wifilmfest.eventive.org.